She is cemented in history as a stout older lady in mourning for her husband. But a new British period drama is to reveal Queen Victoria as a "tempestuous teenager" in the thrall of young love, with writers hinting at a glimpse of passion in the royal bedchamber.

The Sunday night drama will see Jenna Coleman playing the young Victoria as she navigates the scandals of her early reign.

From an "intimate friendship" with Lord Melbourne, her much older advisor, to meeting Albert, the drama will trace the early life of the passionate young queen and the "most astonishing crush ever".

The drama is based on the diaries of Victoria, opening in 1837 when the monarchy is in crisis.

Rufus Sewell is to play Lord Melbourne, while Tom Hughes appears later in the series as Prince Albert.


Coleman said she hoped the show would reveal the lesser-known side of Victoria, adding it was a "huge love story" which would show how she and Prince Albert negotiated "being in the bedroom and the throne room".

"I don't think people are quite aware of how vivid she is and what a lust for life she has," said Coleman.

Goodwin said she hoped the vision of Victoria as an "old bag in a bonnet" would be overturned. During her research, she said, she "suddenly saw this line of text which said 'I've just seen my darling Albert in white cashmere britches with nothing on underneath'.

"And I thought yes, this is a girl of passion, this is a passionate teenager. And she just sort of leapt off the page at me.

"I had this notion of this tempestuous teenager who really doesn't get on with her mother suddenly becoming queen."

When asked whether it would take inspiration from Versailles, the French period drama which has raised eyebrows for its graphic sexual scenes, Goodwin said: "You'll just have to wait and see.

"All I will say is that Victoria and Albert had nine children in 17 years.

"One of the things Albert did when he built Osborne House was to install a special bolt in their bedroom so that if they wanted to get it on, all they'd have to do is push a button by the bed and the door would be locked, so no servants or children would interrupt them.

"I say no more."

Sewell, who has been known for playing cads in the past, told a press conference he had enjoyed acting out a character he "liked so much".

He will play Lord Melbourne, whose "intimate friendship" with Victoria "became a popular source of gossip that threatened to destabilise the Government".

When asked whether he hoped he would become a rival to Aidan Turner's Poldark, he joked: "I was wandering around oiled with my scythe in hand the whole time [on set], but no takers."

On the question of historical accuracy, Goodwin said she had invented downstairs characters but that "everything that happens upstairs is true and from Victoria's diaries".

"Obviously I've embroidered where things were not said," she added.

When: Sunday, 8.30pm
Where: TVNZ1
What: Regal raunch