Snow machines. Costumes in sumptuous shades of green and red. Children excitedly unwrapping presents. Could the set for ITV's Victoria be any more festive?

Well, actually - yes. Jenna Coleman, who plays Queen Victoria in the much-loved royal drama, reveals that she will be gliding along on ice skates. She adds excitedly: "Victorians on ice is quite a beautiful and particular sight."

Ahead of the one-off Christmas special, Jenna and her on-screen husband Tom Hughes tell us more about the Buckingham Palace celebrations.

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FESTIVE FILMING

It's the year 1846 and, as well as having three little ones running around, Victoria and Albert are expecting their fourth child. But that doesn't mean former Doctor Who star Jenna, 31, can't take to the ice rink. "Victoria refuses to let being pregnant stop her pretty much doing anything, to the shock of those around her," she says. "She's ice skating with her bump."

Prince Albert, meanwhile, is obsessed with staging the perfect family Christmas and transforms their home into a magic, winter wonderland. This must have been really fun for Tom, who plays the Prince, to film. "I enjoyed it all," affirms the 31-year-old actor. "The smell of pine needles on set was very welcome."

The show was actually filmed in the summer and Tom adds with a chuckle: "It was odd to walk outside from that to June sunshine, though."

Tom admits he needed a bit of practice for getting Prince Albert on ice, as the rink was synthetic. "I'd been on skates before, Winter Wonderland and the like," he shares, "but getting used to skating on plastic is a completely different kettle of fish."

MOOD CHANGER

Victoria has been applauded, and rightly so, for covering hard-hitting topics, including postnatal depression and the Irish potato famine. And we all know the drill with festive editions of TV dramas - there will be plenty of Christmas cheer in store, but we can also expect some emotional moments.

The festive period reminds Victoria of her lonely childhood spent at Kensington but then the monarch takes in an African orphan named Sarah. As she tries to help the abandoned little girl rebuild herself, she "eases the wounds of her own childhood experience".

"I think Victoria's interest in Sarah is twofold," shares Jenna. "She is a princess from another world, and throughout Victoria's life she has always been curious about other cultures and traditions. "Sarah enters Victoria's life as an orphan, abandoned and alone, and I think Victoria can see something of herself in Sarah," she continues. "It becomes an almost cathartic experience."

FAMILY FEEL

In true Christmas style, much of the episode revolves around the importance of family. Jenna calls the life that her character and Albert have built together their "safe haven".

"As Victoria and Albert are both from broken homes and dysfunctional childhoods, I think it makes a lot of sense in understanding the importance they place on family," she elaborates. "In many ways, the traditional image of family and Christmas stems from them."

And the royal couple's children rushing in to open their gifts made for Jenna's favourite scenes from the special. "The set really felt inhabited in those familial scenes," she says, "and you begin to feel like you are in a home, not a palace."

However, it isn't always plain sailing for the family. Tensions are set to rise between Victoria and Albert after he invites some unwelcome house guests to join the celebrations. Exactly who that is though, we will have to wait and see.

TIMELESS TRADITIONS

Prince Albert has another important part to play in the Christmas episode. How he - and Victorians in general - helped shape our present-day festivities is a running theme throughout writer Daisy Goodwin's script. It's something Tom wasn't aware of until undertaking the role.

"Once I began researching and delving into his life and times it became apparent - not only the prominence of Christmas in their lives, but also, the many similarities in tradition between an 1840s Christmas and a modern day one. Many of these traditions were introduced in the period and set the new trend which has endured until today."

"They kind of invented Christmas as we know it," agrees Jenna, explaining: "We have a brilliant scene with a Christmas card and she's like, 'Why would we need to send the card, people know it's Christmas?'"

Talk soon turns to the things Tom and Jenna - who are rumoured to be dating in real life - always make sure they do at Christmas off-screen.

"I'm not really a man for tradition," insists Tom. "Certainly not a stickler for it, anyhow." A moment later though, he has a change of heart. "You can't beat Christmas pudding though," he adds. "And there's always a good soundtrack."

Jenna is much more definitive in choosing her favourite festive tradition. "Drinking Baileys," she muses, "whilst wrapping presents in front of an open fire on Christmas Eve."

Cheers to that!

  • Victoria Christmas special, ITV, Christmas Day, 9pm