TV show Victoria clueless about real-life duchess, say experts

Diana Rigg as the fifth duchess of Buccleuch in ITV's Victoria.
Diana Rigg as the fifth duchess of Buccleuch in ITV's Victoria.

The makers of the hit TV series Victoria haven’t got much of a clue about the history of the Borders’ Buccleuch family, according to staff at Bowhill House in Selkirk, but they are still hoping fora surge in visitors wanting to distinguish fact from fiction.

The house, home to the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, Richard Scott, is hosting a Victorian-era exhibition at the moment featuring artefacts belonging to one of his ancestors, Charlotte-Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, the fifth duchess of Buccleuch.

A watercolour painting of Charlotte Montagu Douglas Scott and her daughter Victoria by Robert Thorburn.

A watercolour painting of Charlotte Montagu Douglas Scott and her daughter Victoria by Robert Thorburn.

The duchess, played by Game of Thrones star Diana Rigg, is one of the main characters in the second series of Victoria, currently being screened on ITV on Sunday nights, but her small-screen incarnation is a far cry from the real thing, as visitors to Bowhill’s ‘Love and Respect in the Victorian Age’ exhibition have been finding out.

The biggest difference is that the duchess, born Charlotte Anne Thynne in Wiltshire in 1811, was only 30 when she was appointed as Queen Victoria’s mistress of the robes – less than half the age of Rigg, 79, also seen in films including 1973’s Theatre of Blood and 1999’s Parting Shots.

Helen Currie, house and events manager at the Borders stately home, said: “It’s wonderful that people want to find out more about Charlotte-Anne since the new series began. However, it’s safe to say there has been a bit of creative licence.

“The real-life Charlotte-Anne couldn’t be more different as she’d have been in her 30s at that time, rather than her 70s.

Bowhill House at Selkirk.

Bowhill House at Selkirk.

“However the fact she is played by a big star like Diana Rigg will certainly pique people’s interest in learning more, which is no bad thing.

“We have already had a number of visitors making reference to the TV series, and we expect interest to grow as the series continues.

“The exhibition will be open until the end of September, so we would urge fans of the series to stop by.”

The exhibition offers an insight into the lives of both Charlotte-Anne and the fifth duke, Walter Montagu Douglas Scott, exploring how they lived, what they contributed to society and how they met and fell in love.

Exhibits on show include silver, porcelain, jewellery, books and manuscripts, paintings and miniatures.

The family’s links with Victoria are highlighted, with a visitors’ book including her and Prince Albert’s signatures in 1842 and letters from the queen also on display.

The exhibition is open on weekdays from 11am to 4pm, until the end of the month. Entry costs £6, or £4 with a house ticket. Entry to the estate and exhibition costs £6.

For details, visit www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

The second series of Victoria, created by Daisy Goodwin and starring Jenna Coleman as the queen, can be seen at 9pm on Sundays.