Victoria‘s magical Scotland episode, The King Over the Water, immersed viewers in the country’s dramatic landscape of rock and water, castle and sky. But what was it like for the cast members who spent two glorious weeks of filming in such a beautiful place (and for those who were left behind)? Find out below, where Jenna Coleman, David Oakes, and Ferdinand Kingsley share their thoughts with MASTERPIECE. Slàinte mhath!
Jenna Coleman (Queen Victoria)
MASTERPIECE: What was it like to film in the magnificent Scottish Highlands?
COLEMAN: Amazing. I mean, to not only film somewhere where Victoria and Albert really were, and step into history, but also, we spent so long filming in the same environment, that you really get that feeling of it. The rugged hills and the scenery are so utterly beautiful, you really feel what she must have felt to get lost—after being in London for so long, suddenly you’re in this rugged wilderness and the air is so fresh. It really does give you a new lease of life, and it’s a freedom.
MASTERPIECE: How did you go about making it? It felt so remote!
COLEMAN: No, we’re literally against the elements. Production was so ambitious that there was talk initially that maybe we wouldn’t go to Scotland. But we had to—there’s nowhere else that we could really do that! It was really, really amazing.
There was a lot of arriving on set in tractors, because you literally couldn’t drive vehicles up to certain places. And we were riding horseback on horses that had never been on a set before—they were real Highland ponies! Their jobs were to carry stags up and down the hill. Seventeen stone [238lbs] stags is what they usually do each day, and then they came in to film with us! So there was definitely an element of danger, I suppose.
MASTERPIECE: Do you have a favorite off-screen moment from filming in Scotland?
COLEMAN: I think horse riding on a cliff-top in that wilderness was pretty memorable. But actually, the crofter’s cottage scene—to get there, it took us half an hour, and you literally are on top of the mountain and you can’t see anything else…It felt very Wuthering Heights. It was so cold and remote, you really got the feeling of being lost. It was half an hour, I think, before we even got phone signal up there! All the crew are together and you get that real sense of team work.
Read the full Jenna Coleman Q&A
David Oakes (Prince Ernest)
MASTERPIECE: How did you like filming in the Scottish Highlands?
OAKES: Filming on location is always a treat. I spend as much of my spare time as possible walking in the Lake District, and subsequently was looking forward to going hiking and bagging a few Munros [a group of Scottish mountains of 3000′ high]. Unfortunately, we were bound to work, and I did not have a huge amount of time to explore the stunning Scottish countryside. But the fly-fishing scene, a day spent splashing around the river being devoured by midges, was particularly memorable.
MASTERPIECE: Do you have a favorite off-screen moment of filming at Blair Castle in Scotland?
OAKES: Whisky. (FYI: The downstairs team, with a few notable exceptions, are the best drinking partners!)
Read the full David Oakes Q&A
Ferdinand Kingsley (Charles Francatelli)
MASTERPIECE: Were you as sad as Francatelli was that you didn’t get to film in Scotland?
KINGSLEY: Absolutely! I have massive FOMO at the best of times, so when everyone else was being given their itineraries for the Scotland shoot I was basically standing in the production office in costume shouting “THANKS FOR THE INVITATION” at everybody. When I watched that episode with Nell and she had her Scottish smooch, she got some preeeetty filthy looks off me.