Viktoria, Supernatural 1977 (Ep6)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Viktoria will provide many a sleepless night for sufferers of Pediophobia, writes RICHARD MARKWORTH

Viktoria, Supernatural 1977 (Ep6) 1

TITLE: Viktoria
DIRECTOR: Peter Sasdy
FIRST BROADCAST:
16 July 1977 BBC1

Review of Viktoria

Viktoria is the sixth episode of Supernatural and the only entry not penned by series creator Robert Muller. This tale of concealed sexuality, Victorian hypocrisy, and vengeance from beyond the grave was instead written by Sue Lake.

The notorious Club of the Damned receive their latest prospective member, a mysterious veiled figure who requests their story be read aloud by club chairman Sir Charles (Esmond Knight).

In Budapest, in the year 1873, English consul Paul Strickland lives with his disabled wife, Elizabeth (Myrtill Nadasi) and their daughter Viktoria (Genevieve West), a somewhat creepy child with a penchant for burying her dolls. The household is completed by domineering governess Margaret Graham (Judy Cornwell) and Elizabeth’s former nanny, the elderly Carpathian, Kati (Susan Richards).

Despite surface appearances, the matrimonial situation is not a happy one. When in private, the misogynistic Paul makes no effort to hide his disdain for frail invalid Elizabeth who, trapped in a loveless marriage, has little to fill her time other than embroider her rose-patterned tapestry and wistfully reminisce over a young hussar from her past. 

Eventually, Paul cruelly, and fatally, capitalises on his wife’s cardiovascular condition by verbally taunting her to the point of heart failure then withholding her pills as she dies in front of him.

Later, a distraught Kati places a child-sized doll she names Rosa into the deceased woman’s wheelchair and begins to recount esoteric incantations. It is clear Kati will not see the death of her beloved former charge go unpunished.

Viktoria Supernatural Scene
Scene from Viktoria, Supernatural 1977.

Two years later, Paul marries second wife Theresa (Catherine Schell). Prior to the couple departing for England, Kati presents Theresa with Rosa which she explains is a gift for Viktoria. Tellingly, Rosa holds Elizabeth’s partially completed needlework.

Once settled in England, the family unit begins to deteriorate. Viktoria becomes obsessed with Rosa, constantly talking to her and growing resentful of the grownups in her life. Meanwhile, the sinister doll’s rose-themed tapestry continues to develop.

Paul becomes distant from Theresa, preferring instead to foster a close relationship with strapping young Edward (Norman Eshley) much to his wife’s consternation. 

Viktoria becomes ever more impertinent to her elders, even taunting Margaret about her hidden feelings for Theresa. It is clear from this conversation Paul is not the only member of the household whose amorous interests lie beyond the conventional. When Margaret strikes Viktoria for her insolence, the child defiantly advises her Rosa won’t like this action and “may punish you”.

Clearly perturbed by Viktoria’s strange connection to Rosa, Margaret speaks to Theresa and requests the doll be taken away from the girl. Despite these concerns, Theresa disagrees and allows her stepdaughter to keep it. However, she too will eventually become unnerved by the apparent sound of conversation emanating from Viktoria’s bedroom.

As the child’s attachment to Rosa increases, and the embroidery nears completion, a reckoning for past sins is looming at the hands of the possessed doll.

Despite its low budget, Viktoria is an excellent episode containing a genuinely unsettling quality. The production is superbly written and acted, and Paul Lewis’ haunting incidental music enriches the eerie atmosphere of the piece.

Throughout the series, Supernatural regularly dealt with themes of buried passions and pent up desires and these are amplified here with the addition of the gay and lesbian sub-plots. The simmering tensions between the adult characters amp up the drama and add a note of erotically charged friction to the presentation.

The presence of Hammer alumni Peter Sasdy at the helm proves a huge boon. Bringing his horror film expertise to the table, the director skilfully manages to elevate the inherent creepiness of the tale to great effect. 

A superior instalment in the anthology, Viktoria will linger long in the memory and be sure to provide many a sleepless night for sufferers of Pediophobia.

Tell us your thoughts on Viktoria, Supernatural 1977 Episode 6, in the comment section below!

Read Richard Markworth’s reviews of Supernatural 1977 episodes on Spooky Isles.

Read our Supernatural 1977 Episode Guide with reviews of all the episodes!

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