‘I wasn’t taught that at school’ – British viewers shocked by ITV drama’s ‘brutally honest’ portrayal of the Irish Famine
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‘I wasn’t taught that at school’ – British viewers shocked by ITV drama’s ‘brutally honest’ portrayal of the Irish Famine

VIEWERS of period drama Victoria were left shocked by last night’s “brutal” portrayal of the Irish Famine – so often left out of British history lessons.

The ITV show saw Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) hear the news about a “horrific famine” taking place in Ireland in 1845.

British leaders were depicted as apathetic to the blight, most notably Sir Charles Trevelyan, who said it was God’s punishment on the Irish.

Line of Duty star Martin Compston appeared in the episode as Dr Robert Traill, an Irish reverend who appealed to Queen Victoria for help on behalf of his people.

The upsetting scenes left some viewers disturbed by a dark chapter of history they hadn’t learned about at school – despite it being viewed by some as a genocide perpetrated by the British establishment.

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The episode also received praise for its portrayal of the stark extent of the Famine – which caused the deaths of one million Irish people and forced the emigration of a million more.

Fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the emotional episode, and thanked Victoria creator Daisy Goodwin for highlighting the issue.

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“Quite emotional watching #Victoria, my ancestors came to England to escape the Irish potato famine. Well done ITV,” wrote one viewer.

Another said: “Really weird as an Irish person going on twitter and seeing a load of British people being horrified by the famine. Now you know.”

While another added: “I think #JennaColeman is doing a fine job playing #Victoria; and credit to the show for their brutally honest portrayal of the Irish Famine.”

Some viewers said they were “disturbed” that the Irish Famine had not been taught at school.

“Is the Great Irish Famine even taught about in the British education system?” asked one fan.

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Another said: “I bet there's a large number of people who didn't know the true horrors of the famine until tonight.”

While a third thanked writer Daisy Goodwin, saying: “Well done for highlighting the Irish problem with the Potato Famine that the government ignored. Thank you.”