‘It's still upsetting in Ireland’ – Victoria creator on writing Irish Famine episode to shock ‘ignorant’ Britain

‘It's still upsetting in Ireland’ – Victoria creator on writing Irish Famine episode to shock ‘ignorant’ Britain

THE creator of period drama Victoria has said she deliberately wrote Sunday’s provocative episode about the Irish Famine to combat ‘ignorant’ attitudes in Britain.

Daisy Goodwin explained that she went through historical documents to write dialogue for Sir Charles Trevelyan, who infamously said “the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach Irish a lesson.”

Trevelyan also said the 19th century blight in Ireland was an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population.”

Taking to Twitter, Victoria writer Ms Goodwin said she was shocked by “ignorance” in Britain about the events of 1845-1852.

"Everything Trevelyan says about Ireland is based on historical documents," she said.

"The ignorance in the UK of what happened in the Famine is shocking."

Many British viewers expressed their shock at Sunday’s episode on social media, admitting they learned little or nothing of the Irish Famine at school.

Ms Goodwin said the history of the Famine is a “classic example” of victim-blaming.

“I don’t think that British people know anything about (the Famine). I would have included myself in that,” Ms Goodwin added to the The Times.

“I studied history in Cambridge but I never knew the extent of how and why it happened.

“I don’t want this to be taken in the wrong way but there is a feeling that the Irish are always complaining about something.

“It is only when you look at it like this that you understand how Britain and Ireland’s relationship has a similar history to the racism in America.

“I wanted to write an article about the Famine before this series went out but no newspaper was interested. I think there is a feeling of ‘yeah, Irish, whatever’. There is a fatigue about the relationship but it is not understood.”

Martin Compston played Dr Robert Traill in Sunday’s episode, a real-life Irish campaigner for Famine victims in Cork.

Ms Goodwin, who is Dr Traill’s great-great-great granddaughter, said that when she visited Ireland she was struck by how much the Famine was still discussed in Ireland, especially compared to Britain – despite the subject being on one GCSE syllabus here.

“That was totally a factor in doing this episode,” she said. “I wanted people here to understand the attitude of the British government victim-blaming the Irish.

“I read the archive of the time and was really angry about how completely wrong they were."

She added: “I don’t think anybody knows about that in the UK, and I can imagine in Ireland that is really upsetting.”