Leeds students work behind the scenes on ITV’s Victoria

BEHIND THE SCENES: Student Richard Stringer who created thatched roofs used to create a Victorian Irish farm.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Student Richard Stringer who created thatched roofs used to create a Victorian Irish farm.
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In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria and her German consort Prince Albert celebrating around a decorated tree.

The tree was adopted by the British people and by the end of the 19th century Christmas in the UK had become the major annual celebration it is today, with trees, homemade decorations, Christmas cards, gifts and crackers.

Now, more than 170 years later the festivities are set to continue on screen with a yuletide two-hour special of period drama Victoria on Christmas Day.

Watched by millions, the programme is renowned for its attention to historical detail, recreating thousands of costumes and lavish palace interiors.

But not all the props are as expensive as they look.

Working behind the scenes, a team of Leeds Arts University students have been helping recreate the Victorian splendour – and squalor.

Among them was BA (Hons) Fine Art degree student Richard Stringer, who worked at the production team’s base in a former RAF site in the North Yorkshire village Church Fenton. Inside a vast hangar, the TV crew had constructed replicas of Buckingham Palace rooms.

Mr Stringer’s tasks included making fake stone columns out of foam and creating thatched roofs used to create a Victorian Irish farm, which was actually located just a few miles from Church Fenton.

He said: “The amount of work that goes into getting the details right is staggering.

“The farm was transformed so it looked just like the right period, with the thatched roof put on top of the modern tiled roof. Then they spread tonnes and tonnes of mud and manure to cover the tarmac. It looked amazing and all that work for just a few seconds in the episode.

”It was a great experience and definitely the sort of industry I want to work in the future.”

Work experience on the Victoria set was undertaken by 10 students from the university - formerly Leeds College of Art - which the only specialist arts university in the North of England.

Kelly Cumberland, course leader BA (Hons) Fine Art, said: “Working on such a high-quality production like Victoria is an amazing opportunity for the students to see just how much work goes into making each episode.”