There’s nothing like a good cat fight, and this is set to be one of the scratchiest of them all. ITV is currently making its next major series about the early life of the oddly surnameless monarch Victoria, while Netflix is staking £100 million on The Crown, a TV saga about our current royal grand dame, Elizabeth.
Both companies are throwing everything at the screen in the hope of their show becoming the next Downton Abbey. So here’s our Top Trumps style breakdown of the Battle Royale to decide who has the best chance of wiping the red carpet with the other one’s royal face.
Stars: It’s Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who playing Queen Vic, which may bring on board younger viewers, but she strikes us a bit too panda-cute for the mother of the nation. She’s up against Claire Foy as QEII, who has form having recently played Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, though she did lose her head in the last episode.
Winner: Claire Foy
Episodes: Victoria kicks off with a 90-minute pilot followed by seven succinct hours each week. The Crown is going all-out with a rumoured 13 episode first season.
Winner: Victoria (it will be over quicker).
Supporting cast: In Victoria, Rufus Sewell plays the lesser known PM Lord Melbourne, while Tom Hughes is Prince Albert (we sincerely hope he spends at least one episode with his crotch in ice after piercing his crown jewels). The Crown promises an irascible and politically incorrect Prince Philip in Matt Smith, while John Lithgow does Churchill and Eileen Atkins pops up as Queen Mary.
Winner: The Crown
Behind the camera: Victoria has been written by historical novelist Daisy Goodwin with support from a team who’ve made Poldark, Indian Summers and Parade’s End. The Crown gets Peter Morgan as its scribe with Stephen Daldry on director duties, the two having made the similarly-themed stage play The Audience together.
Winner: Daisy Goodwin (surely both stories should have been told by women).
Scope: Victoria charts the early life of this plucky heroine from her ascension to the throne at 18 up until her marriage to Prince Albert (and yes, we have seen that story before). The Crown, on the other be-gloved hand, looks set to cover (deep breath): the Abdication Crisis, World War II, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, the births of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, succession and coronation, the death of Queen Mary, the Townsend Affair, the retirement of Churchill and the Suez Crisis (with much more to follow if the series is a hit — presumably right up to Brenda’s upcoming death).
Winner: Victoria — for wisely not biting off more than it can chew.
Frocks: Coleman has been spotted in several lavish gowns including a fetching meringue-style number and one in demure blue and gold. Foy however has to make do with 1950s austerity: apparently Liz’s bridal dress was made with material purchased by saving ration coupons, the poor thing. Now we’ve heard of make do and mend but she is, we can surely all agree, God’s anointed vessel on earth — so she should at least have decent duds to wear for her coming out party!
Best use of London: There appears to be treachery going on in both series, with Coleman being papped in York, dressed up to look like London, and Foy filming royal wedding scenes at Ely Cathedral as a stand-in for Westminster Abbey.
Winner: Both lose.
Overall winner: The Crown. In our humble opinion, it’s going to grind Victoria’s tiara into her winsome eyeballs and then bludgeon her with the Stone of Scone. As a reward we deem the show worthy of having it’s sizzle reel featured herewith: