September 15, 2018   David   Interviews, The Cry, Victoria

I’m in a corset on an airfield currently”, laughs Jenna Coleman, as she phones from the set of Victoria, explaining the intermittent whooshes that soundtrack our conversation.

But we’re not talking about Victoria just yet (we do, of course – more later). We’re discussing The Cry, Coleman’s latest television drama, which is, quite literally, miles away from her portrayal of the corseted monarch. Set in a small coastal town in Australia, Coleman plays Jo, a woman whose psychological state and relationship unravels when her baby disappears.

“It’s so much about motherhood, and the bond with your child,” she says of the role and the research that went into it. “Obviously I’m not a mother so it was an interesting thing to have to be so deeply connected with. Luckily, I’ve got loads of friends who have just had babies, so they were incredibly helpful. A couple of them who are actors as well sent me really raw, visceral details about the day-to-day realities of what it’s like to be a mother.”

“There are things you don’t really think about that much,” she continued. “Even like the logistics of getting out of the house and questions about your identity. It was quite an eye-opening process.”

The complex emotional exploration wasn’t the only challenge that Coleman found in the role. Her first psychological thriller, the script is intricate as the plot twists and turns, keeping the truth just beyond the audience’s grasp. “It’s about what you’re not giving away,” she says. “You’re constantly keeping your cards close to your chest.”

While the scenes were harrowing, the atmosphere during filming was far from it. “It became quite a cheery, giddy, heightened set, because it was such an emotional rollercoaster. We just wanted to get away from it, so it actually became almost the polar opposite between takes.”

Coleman’s career trajectory has taken her between some stellar television series – from Waterloo Road to Doctor Who and, perhaps most notably, as the aforementioned Queen Victoria in ITV’s biographical drama in her formative years – when she ascends the throne and marries Prince Albert. Which parts of the job does she find the most rewarding?

“It’s such a gift really when you’re given something to be brought to life,” she considers. “Things like Victoria, to be able to grow with that character. To have done a couple of series, she’s older now, we have seven children!”


“To see them running around the palace with the children causing havoc,” is a huge draw of the show, Coleman thinks. “You’re seeing inside the doors and rooms of what was a real family living in quite an extraordinary circumstance. And, in Victorian England, you’re watching a woman rule when women didn’t have the vote. I think it’s surprisingly undiscovered I guess. And it’s all been quite a revelation to me.”

However, long before she reigned as Victoria for ITV, there was actually another queen that Coleman had her eye on playing as a dream role.

“I always said that I wanted to play Cleopatra, because I remember that thing about her being the infinite variety,” she recalls. “But Victoria kind of gives you that – she gets to swing through so many different things. I don’t get bored of her in any way.”

The Cry is coming to BBC One soon.