The Crown (TV series)
The Crown is a historical drama television series, created and principally written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. The show is a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The first season covers the period from her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to the disintegration of her sister Princess Margaret's engagement to Peter Townsend in 1955. The second season covers the period from the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the retirement of the Queen's third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1963 and the birth of Prince Edward in 1964. The third season will continue on from 1964, covering Harold Wilson's two terms as the Queen's Prime Minister until 1976, while the fourth season will see Margaret Thatcher's premiership and a focus on Diana, Princess of Wales.
|Created by||Peter Morgan|
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||20 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||54–61 minutes|
|Picture format||4K (Ultra HD)|
|Original release||November 4, 2016– present|
The Crown evolved out of Morgan's 2006 film The Queen and 2013 stage play The Audience. The series is intended to last 60 episodes over six seasons, with 10 one-hour episodes per season, covering Elizabeth's life from her younger years to her reign, and with new actors being cast every two seasons. Claire Foy portrays the Queen in the first two seasons, alongside Matt Smith as Prince Philip and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Olivia Colman will take over for Foy as the Queen in the third and fourth seasons. Filming for the series takes place at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with location shooting at various locations throughout the United Kingdom.
The first season was released on Netflix on November 4, 2016, while the second was released on December 8, 2017. The series has been renewed for a third and fourth season. The Crown has received widespread critical acclaim for its acting, directing, writing, cinematography, production merits, and the relatively accurate historical accounts of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Significant praise in the first season was directed towards the performances of Foy in the leading role and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. The series has received several accolades, including winning Best Actress and Best Actor at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards for Foy and Lithgow, respectively, and receiving thirteen nominations for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series.
The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to the present day. The first season, which sees Claire Foy portraying the Queen in the early part of her reign, depicts events up to 1955, with Winston Churchill resigning as Prime Minister and the Queen's sister Princess Margaret deciding not to marry Peter Townsend. The second season covers from the Suez Crisis in 1956 through the retirement of the Queen's third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1963 following the Profumo affair political scandal and the birth of Prince Edward in 1964.
The third season will see Olivia Colman portraying the Queen, and will cover the two terms of Harold Wilson as the Queen's Prime Minister, starting in 1964 with his first, until 1976 at the end of his second. It will also include Princess Margaret's five-year affair with baronet and gardening expert Roddy Llewellyn, and see the introduction of Camilla Parker Bowles and Diana Spencer. Spencer will be more of a focus in the fourth season, which also sees Margaret Thatcher's premiership.
- Claire Foy as Princess Elizabeth and later Queen Elizabeth II.
- Matt Smith as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth's husband
- Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Elizabeth's younger sister.
- Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother (season 1)
- Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Churchill's Foreign Secretary, who succeeds him as Prime Minister
- Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth, George VI's wife and Elizabeth's mother, known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother during her daughter's reign
- Ben Miles as Group Captain Peter Townsend, George VI's equerry, who hopes to marry Princess Margaret
- Greg Wise as Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Philip's ambitious uncle and great-grandson of Queen Victoria
- Jared Harris as King George VI, Elizabeth's father, known to his family as Bertie
- John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, the Queen's first Prime Minister
- Alex Jennings as Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who had abdicated in favour of his younger brother Bertie to marry Wallis Simpson; known to his family as David
- Lia Williams as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, Edward's American wife
- Anton Lesser as Harold Macmillan, who follows Anthony Eden as Prime Minister (season 2)
- Matthew Goode as Antony Armstrong-Jones, known as Tony, a society photographer who marries Princess Margaret (season 2)
The below actors are credited in the opening titles of single episodes in which they play a significant role.
- Stephen Dillane as Graham Sutherland, a noted artist who paints a portrait of the aging Churchill (season 1)
- Gemma Whelan as Patricia Campbell, a secretary whom Altrincham works with and types up his editorial (season 2)
- John Heffernan as Lord Altrincham, a writer who penned a scathing criticism of the Queen (season 2)
- Paul Sparks as Billy Graham, a prominent American minister with whom Elizabeth consults (season 2)
- Michael C. Hall as John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States who visits the Queen (season 2)
- Jodi Balfour as Jacqueline Kennedy, the First Lady of the United States (season 2)
- Burghart Klaussner as Dr. Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun, where Philip and Charles went to school (season 2)
- Finn Elliot as school-aged Prince Philip (season 2)
- Julian Baring as school-aged Prince Charles (season 2)
- Billy Jenkins as young Prince Charles
- Clive Francis as Lord Salisbury
- Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles
- Harry Hadden-Paton as Martin Charteris
- Daniel Ings as Mike Parker
- Lizzy McInnerny as Margaret "Bobo" MacDonald
- Michael Bertenshaw as the Master of the Household
- Patrick Ryecart as the Duke of Norfolk
- Will Keen as Michael Adeane
- James Laurenson as Doctor Weir
- Mark Tandy as Cecil Beaton
- Michael Culkin as Rab Butler
- George Asprey as Walter Monckton
- James Hillier as Equerry
- Anna Madeley as Clarissa Eden
- Nick Hendrix (season 1) and Tom Durant-Pritchard (season 2) as Billy Wallace
- Josh Taylor as Johnny Dalkeith
- David Shields (season 1) and Pip Carter (season 2) as Colin Tennant
- Julius D'Silva as Baron Nahum
- Jo Herbert as Mary Charteris
- Richard Clifford as Norman Hartnell
- Joseph Kloska as Porchey
- Amir Boutrous as Gamal Abdel Nasser
- Abigail Parmenter as Judy Montagu
- Harriet Walter as Clementine Churchill
- Nicholas Rowe as Jock Colville
- Simon Chandler as Clement Attlee
- Kate Phillips as Venetia Scott
- Ronald Pickup as the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Nigel Cooke as Harry Crookshank
- Patrick Drury as the Lord Chamberlain
- John Woodvine as the Archbishop of York
- Rosalind Knight as Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark
- Andy Sanderson as Prince Henry
- Verity Russell as young Princess Elizabeth
- Beau Gadsdon as young Princess Margaret
- Jo Stone-Fewings as Collins
- Tony Guilfoyle as the Bishop of Durham
- Paul Thornley as Bill Mattheson
- Chloe Pirrie as Eileen Parker
- Nicholas Burns as Anthony Nutting
- Lucy Russell as Lady Mountbatten
- Richard Elfyn as Selwyn Lloyd
- Adrian Lukis as Vice-Admiral Sir Conolly Abel Smith
- Sophie Leigh Stone as Princess Alice of Battenberg
- Guy Williams as Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
- Leonie Benesch as Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark
- Simon Paisley Day as Meryn Lewis
- Sylvestra Le Touzel as Dorothy Macmillan
- Catherine Bailey as Elizabeth Cavendish
- Paul Clayton as Bob Boothby
- Yolanda Kettle as Camilla Fry
- Ed Cooper Clarke as Jeremy Fry
- Ryan Sampson as Dudley Moore
- Tim Steed as John Profumo
- Lyla Barrett-Rye as young Princess Anne
- Robert Irons as Freddie Bishop
- Patrick Warner as Peter Cook
- Oliver Maltman as Jim Orr
- David Annen as Alec Douglas-Home
Season 1 (2016)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Wolferton Splash"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In November 1947, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark renounces his royal titles in order to marry Princess Elizabeth, King George VI's elder daughter and heiress presumptive. The newlyweds move to Malta, where Philip returns to the Royal Navy and Elizabeth gives birth to her son Charles and her daughter Anne. In 1951, the couple returns to London when King George undergoes surgery for lung cancer. After being told that he has months to live, the King counsels Philip on how to further assist Elizabeth when she becomes the new sovereign. Meanwhile, former Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine return to Downing Street following six years of a Labour Party government.|
|2||2||"Hyde Park Corner"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In 1952, with King George still in ill health, Elizabeth and Philip tour the Commonwealth in his place. While the couple is on safari in Kenya, the King is found dead in his bed. His wife Queen Elizabeth, younger daughter Margaret, and widowed mother Queen Mary mourn as news of George's sudden passing spreads via radio to the rest of the world. Philip breaks the news to Elizabeth, who returns to the United Kingdom as Queen and reunites with her family in their grief.|
|3||3||"Windsor"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In February 1952, as the Royal Family prepares for King George's funeral, Elizabeth's uncle Edward, Duke of Windsor, who has been living in Paris with Wallis Simpson since his abdication in 1936, arrives in the United Kingdom, causing the Queen Mother and Queen Mary to reopen old wounds surrounding his choice of wife. Elizabeth meets with Churchill to discuss Philip's requests that his family keep the name Mountbatten and live at Clarence House rather than move into Buckingham Palace. The Prime Minister displays a reluctance to bend to either request, but Elizabeth later drops them after receiving counsel from Edward. Churchill later informs Elizabeth the date for her coronation has been set for the following year, which she recognizes as an attempt to secure his position against his own party, who are eager for Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to replace him.|
|4||4||"Act of God"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In December 1952, as a great smog affects London and kills thousands, Elizabeth's advisors pressure her to ask Churchill, who referred to the event as an "act of God," to step down. While initially reluctant to do so, the Queen summons him for a private audience after he comes under fire from the Opposition and refuses to discuss the smog at a Cabinet meeting. Before the meeting, Churchill's eyes are finally opened to the smog's effects when his beloved secretary, Venetia Scott, is killed by a double-decker bus. He makes an impassioned speech outside the hospital where Venetia's body is being held, promising a longer-term approach to preventing future smog. His speech prompts Elizabeth to change her mind when the smog clears moments before their audience takes place. Philip begins flying lessons from Royal Air Force Group Captain Peter Townsend, who is having a clandestine relationship with Margaret.|
|5||5||"Smoke and Mirrors"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Following Queen Mary's death in March 1953, the visiting Duke of Windsor clashes with Elizabeth's Private Secretary Tommy Lascelles after being asked not to attend Elizabeth's coronation and learning that Wallis will not be receiving an invitation. Elizabeth places Philip in charge of coronation preparations only to regret her decision when he upsets her with a request that he forego kneeling to pay homage when she is being crowned and antagonizes the committee with his insistence that the event should be televised. On June 2, Elizabeth is crowned at Westminster Abbey while Edward and Wallis view the coronation from their villa in Paris and spitefully mock the new Queen.|
|6||6||"Gelignite"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|When Margaret and Townsend ask for Elizabeth's permission to marry, the Queen promises to give her support while Lascelles and the Queen Mother advise against it. As a local newspaper publishes an article about the relationship, Elizabeth changes her mind after learning that the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 prohibits Margaret from marrying without permission until she turns twenty-five. Elizabeth and Philip take Townsend, who is set to be posted to Brussels, with them on a trip to Northern Ireland, but his popularity causes Lascelles to recommend that he be posted to Brussels sooner than promised, causing a lasting rift between the two sisters.|
|7||7||"Scientia Potentia Est"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In August 1953, Churchill urges an international summit with American President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to the Soviet Union testing their first thermonuclear weapon. At the last minute, Churchill falls victim to a stroke which inhibits his ability to govern, prompting conservative Lord Salisbury to try and keep his ailment secret. Meanwhile, Elizabeth contemplates whether to replace the retiring Lascelles with senior deputy Michael Adeane or with her preferred choice Martin Charteris. She later engages a private tutor to improve her knowledge of science and related subjects, which helps her gain enough courage to dress down Churchill and Salisbury for lying to her.|
|8||8||"Pride & Joy"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|With Elizabeth and Philip on a stressful tour of the Commonwealth, Margaret takes on more royal engagements while the Queen Mother goes to Scotland to reflect on her new position and buys a castle. Philip, meanwhile, grows frustrated over Elizabeth using him as a prop and the couple have a heated argument that is recorded by photographers. While Elizabeth convinces the photographers to hand over the recording, she and Phillip remain unable to resolve the argument and realize they must pretend to have a stable relationship for the public's sake. Churchill visits Margaret and, after explaining that the general public does not want someone with passion or personality, tells her she will no longer be taking on royal engagements.|
|9||9||"Assassins"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Philip begins spending more time out of the house while Elizabeth begins spending more time with her horse racing manager and friend Lord "Porchey" Porchester. The tension escalates after Elizabeth has a direct line put in for Porchey to call Buckingham Palace and culminates in a heated confrontation. Elizabeth later tells Philip that, to the disappointment of many, he is the only man she has ever loved. He, in turn, silently mouths an apology after she makes a moving speech at Churchill's eightieth birthday dinner. Meanwhile, Graham Sutherland paints a portrait of Churchill as a birthday gift from Parliament. The Prime Minister, however, hates its accuracy and, after a heated confrontation with Sutherland, admits his pain at what aging has done to him. The portrait is later destroyed on secret instructions from Clementine.|
|10||10||"Gloriana"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In 1956, Elizabeth finds herself torn when the public approves and officials from both Parliament and the Church of England disapprove of Margaret's relationship with Townsend. As Elizabeth tries to persuade Margaret against the relationship, the Queen Mother starts complaining about Philip's domineering attitude towards Charles. At the suggestion of both Lascelles and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth asks Philip to open the Summer Olympics in Melbourne so he can adjust to life in her shadow. A five-month royal tour onboard the newly commissioned HMY Britannia is later added to Philip's itinerary, to which Elizabeth responds by suggesting that he be thankful everyone is helping him find a public role. Meanwhile, Eden replaces Churchill as Prime Minister and becomes trapped in a escalating dispute with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser over rights to the Suez Canal.|
Season 2 (2017)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|11||1||"Misadventure"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In February 1957, Elizabeth and Philip discuss the state of their marriage while onboard the Britannia in Lisbon, ultimately recognising that divorce is not an option. Five months earlier, as Philip prepares to embark on his royal tour, Elizabeth becomes convinced he is having an affair after finding a photograph of Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova in his briefcase. Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan challenges Prime Minister Anthony Eden's solution to Egypt nationalising the Suez Canal, but later agrees that the best course of action is military intervention. Philip's uncle Louis Mountbatten overhears the plan and warns Elizabeth, who confronts Eden after hearing reports that Israel has invaded the Sinai Peninsula. Eden explains that the invasion was part of a secret plan spearheaded by Israel, France, and the United Kingdom to reclaim the canal and overthrow Egyptian President Nasser without support from Parliament or the United Nations. Elizabeth gives her support and allows British forces to begin launching air raids on Egypt before going to see Ulanova perform.|
|12||2||"A Company of Men"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In December 1956, Eden withdraws British forces from Egypt following international political pressure before going on a vacation to Jamaica on the grounds of ill health. Philip, meanwhile, continues his royal tour, with his adventures punctuated by a newspaper interview that ends when the reporter presses him for information about his family's past and a shipwrecked fisherman briefly joining the tour after being rescued. On Christmas, Philip gives a speech on the radio, prompting Elizabeth to let him know his family is waiting for him while giving the Royal Christmas Message. Meanwhile, Eileen Parker, the wife of Philip's private secretary Michael, initiates divorce proceedings after finding proof that her husband has been engaging in an affair. Elizabeth's assistant private secretary Martin Charteris warns Adeane about Eileen, noting that her filing for divorce could cause the press to question the state of Elizabeth and Philip's marriage.|
|13||3||"Lisbon"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Eden returns from Jamaica only to find himself forced out of Downing Street by his cabinet and the Conservative Party, who blame him for the repercussions of the Suez Crisis. As Macmillan settles into the role of Prime Minister, Adeane enlists a retired Lascelles to make Eileen change her mind about the divorce proceedings. When his plan fails and Elizabeth, Philip, and Parker learn about the decision, Elizabeth attempts to convince her to hold off the announcement only to be rebuffed. The story later goes public, prompting Philip to force Parker to resign. Elizabeth arranges for Philip's return before meeting the Britannia in Lisbon, where Philip tells her that he resents that his son outranks him and he needs respect from the "mustaches". On February 22, 1957, Philip is given the title of Prince and styled "His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".|
|14||4||"Beryl"||Benjamin Caron||Amy Jenkins and Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Shortly before her birthday, Margaret accepts a marriage proposal from her friend Billy Wallace only to break off the engagement when she finds him drunk and recovering from a duel on the night of the announcement, which was set to take place during a gala celebrating Elizabeth and Philip's tenth wedding anniversary. Sometime later, she meets photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at a dinner party and becomes infatuated with him. He later invites her to his studio for a sitting. Bored with her traditional birthday picture, she gives one of the photographs, which suggest she is nude, to the newspapers. The following day, the picture is published, shocking Elizabeth and the rest of the Royal Family. Macmillan's wife Dorothy decides to end her longtime affair, only for Macmillan to overhear her talking to her lover on the telephone.|
|15||5||"Marionettes"||Philippa Lowthorpe||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Lord Altrincham, a minor peer and magazine editor, sparks a constitutional crisis after writing an article that contains personal criticism of Elizabeth. The piece was written after Altrincham had listened to a radio broadcast of a particularly tone-deaf speech of hers, written by her aides and members of the court, to the workers of a car factory. While both the local newspapers and the general public are initially against him, they side with him after he appears on ITV and states that the monarchy needs to adapt to the current post-war and post-Suez British society. Macmillan reminds Elizabeth about the trend of nations abolishing monarchies, prompting her to meet with Altrincham in secret. She later implements two of his suggestions, specifically that the 1957 Royal Christmas Message be televised and that the Debutante Ball be opened to select citizens. Six months later, the Queen Mother expresses her embarrassment over the monarchy slowly losing its authority while hosting a garden party with middle-class citizens in attendance.|
|16||6||"Vergangenheit"||Philippa Lowthorpe||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In 1945 Germany, a German officer leads American soldiers to a box containing top-secret diplomatic papers. Sometime later, after discovering that the translated files contain information about "Windsor", Winston Churchill informs King George about the situation and is tasked with ensuring that the files are never published. In 1958, shortly before meeting with American evangelist Billy Graham, Elizabeth receives a letter from Edward asking for permission to re-enter the United Kingdom and try to find employment. She grants the request and he immediately starts convincing former sycophants to support his return. When a group of historians previously tasked with publishing German war files unearths the papers, which have been reorganised into a series of volumes entitled the Marburg Files, Macmillan brings the issue to Elizabeth. He and the Queen Mother proceed to explain that one volume, which the United States wants to be published, concerns Edward's clandestine relationship with Nazi High Command. After a confrontation with Edward does not go as planned, Elizabeth asks Lascelles for advice only to learn the extent of the relationship. Elizabeth then seeks spiritual counsel from Reverend Graham before exiling Edward for betraying his country and allowing the volume to be published.|
|17||7||"Matrimonium"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|After learning that Peter Townsend is engaged to a much younger woman, Margaret retaliates by pressing Armstrong-Jones into proposing marriage. Because Elizabeth is pregnant, royal protocol prevents her from announcing the engagement. Adeane and Lascelles inform Elizabeth that Armstrong-Jones is currently engaged in sexual relationships with several other women, as well as with his best male friend and his wife, who is pregnant with what might be Armstrong-Jones's child. On February 19, 1960, Elizabeth gives birth to her son Andrew. She decides against telling Margaret about Armstrong-Jones's sexual activity. Three months later, on May 6, 1960, Margaret and Armstrong-Jones are married at Westminster Abbey.|
|18||8||"Dear Mrs. Kennedy"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In June 1961, Elizabeth invites newly-inaugurated American President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie to Buckingham Palace for dinner. The Queen finds common ground with the First Lady only to become annoyed the following day after learning that Jackie insulted both her and Buckingham Palace at a party. Feeling challenged, she travels to Ghana to meet with President Kwame Nkrumah, whose relationship with the Soviet Union is worrying Macmillan. Elizabeth successfully convinces him to cut all ties with the Soviet Union and realign Ghana's interests with the United Kingdom in exchange for agreeing to dance the foxtrot with her. Shortly afterward, Jackie makes an unexpected visit to the United Kingdom and sits down with Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, where she apologizes for insulting her behind her back and explains that she was under the influence of "substances" at the time. Elizabeth later confides in Philip, asking him if she should have responded in a more personal way. Two years later, after watching the news coverage of President Kennedy's assassination, Elizabeth arranges for a week of mourning to take place throughout the United Kingdom before writing a personal letter of sympathy to Jackie.|
|19||9||"Paterfamilias"||Stephen Daldry||Tom Edge and Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In May 1962, Charles attends Gordonstoun School in Scotland on Philip's insistence. Elizabeth and Louis, both of whom are against the idea, recommend Eton College only for Philip to use his deal with Elizabeth to force her to agree with him. As he personally escorts Charles to Scotland, Philip recalls his time at the school, in which he was punished for fighting a fellow student by being forced to construct the school's front gate during the winter break, and the death of his favourite sister Cecile and her family in a plane crash, for which his father Andrew blamed him. Charles, meanwhile, starts having difficulties in keeping up with Gordonstoun's rigorous curriculum and, when he disappears during the Gordonstoun challenge, is found crying by his security detail. While flying back to England, Philip admonishes Charles for being "bloody weak".|
|20||10||"Mystery Man"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In April 1963, the government erupts into chaos after an affair between Secretary of State for War John Profumo and model Christine Keeler becomes public knowledge. When the media begins to speculate about a "mystery man" seen in a photograph of a party hosted by London osteopath Stephen Ward, who is charged with a series of immorality offences, Margaret and Tony notice similarities between Philip and the mystery man. Sometime later, Ward commits suicide and the police find a hand-drawn portrait of Philip among his belongings. An embarrassed Macmillan resigns and is succeeded by Alec Douglas-Home, whose appointment sparks controversy due to his relationship with the Royal Family. Elizabeth later asks Philip if he is the mystery man, and confronts him with the photograph of Ulanova. Philip admits to knowing Ward in a minor capacity, having visited his clinic the previous year after injuring his neck, but denies attending any of Ward's weekend parties before reaffirming his love and support for Elizabeth. On March 10, 1964, Elizabeth gives birth to Prince Edward, her fourth child.|
Peter Morgan, who wrote the 2006 film The Queen and the 2013 stage play The Audience, is the main scriptwriter for The Crown. The directors of the television series who were also involved in the stage production are Stephen Daldry, Philip Martin, Julian Jarrold, and Benjamin Caron. The first 10-part season was the most expensive drama produced by Netflix and Left Bank Pictures to date, costing at least £100 million. A second season was commissioned, with the series intended to span 60 episodes over six seasons. By October 2017, "early production" had begun on an anticipated third and fourth season, and by the following January, Netflix confirmed the series had been renewed for a third and fourth season.
By November 2014, Claire Foy had entered negotiations to portray Queen Elizabeth II in the series. The following May, Vanessa Kirby was in negotiations to portray Princess Margaret. In June 2015, John Lithgow was cast as Winston Churchill, and Matt Smith was cast as Prince Phillip; Foy was confirmed to be portraying Queen Elizabeth II. Also starring in the first season include Victoria Hamilton, Jared Harris, and Eileen Atkins.
The series producers will recast some roles with older actors every two seasons, as the series timeline moves forward and the characters age. In October 2017, Olivia Colman was cast as Queen Elizabeth II for the third and fourth seasons. By January 2018, Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany were in negotiations to portray Princess Margaret and Prince Philip, respectively, for the third and fourth seasons.
An estimated 25% of the first season was filmed at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with the remainder filmed on location, with the season filmed over 152 days. Sets for private quarters, the interior of a private jet, the cabinet room, and the exterior of 10 Downing Street were built at Elstree Studios, while Lancaster House, Wrotham Park and Wilton House were used for scenes to double as Buckingham Palace. Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey, while filming in South Africa doubled as Kenya. Additional filming locations in the United Kingdom included Eltham Palace, the Royal Naval College, Goldsmiths' Hall, Shoreham Airport, New Slains Castle, Balmoral Castle, Cruden Bay, Lyceum Theatre, Loseley Park, Hatfield House, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Southwark Cathedral, Ardverikie House, Englefield House, and Glenfeshie Estate. Filming on the second season began in early October 2016.
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The show has been interpreted as perpetuating the idea that the Queen and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill forced Princess Margaret to give up her plan of marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend. Evidence is clear that efforts were under way to prevent any further delay of the marriage. In contradiction to the TV dramatization this plan would have allowed Princess Margaret to keep her royal title and her civil list allowance, stay in the country and even continue with her public duties. In the dramatization, the Queen is seen telling her sister that if she marries Townsend she will no longer be a member of the family because of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
The re-enactment of the King's surgery, originally performed by Sir Clement Price Thomas, to remove a lung tumour, was researched and planned by Pankaj Chandak, specialist registrar in transplant surgery, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London. Mr Chandak and his surgical team then became part of the real scene. The production team donated the surgical model of King George VI to the Gordon Museum of Pathology to be used as teaching aid.
The series' first two episodes were released theatrically in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2016. The first season was released worldwide in its entirety on November 4, 2016. The second season was released on December 8, 2017.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 90% approval rating for the first season based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject." On Metacritic, the series holds a score of 81 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
The Guardian's TV critic Lucy Mangan praised the series and wrote that "Netflix can rest assured that its £100m gamble has paid off. This first series, about good old British phlegm from first to last, is the service's crowning achievement so far." Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Ben Lawrence said, "The Crown is a PR triumph for the Windsors, a compassionate piece of work that humanises them in a way that has never been seen before. It is a portrait of an extraordinary family, an intelligent comment on the effects of the constitution on their personal lives and a fascinating account of postwar Britain all rolled into one." Chief television critic Jaci Stephen of The Mail on Sunday lauded the series and said, "Faultless is the only word for The Crown with its exquisite writing and magnificent acting." Writing for The Boston Globe, Matthew Gilbert lauded the series saying, "The show, created and written by Peter Morgan of The Queen and Frost/Nixon is thoroughly engaging, gorgeously shot, beautifully acted, rich in the historical events of postwar England, and designed with a sharp eye to psychological nuance." Vicki Hyman of The Star-Ledger said, "A sumptuous, stately but never dull look inside the life of Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy)." The A.V. Club's Gwen Ihnat said, "The Crown easily rises far above, adding a cinematic quality to a complex and intricate time for an intimate family. The performers and creators are seemingly up for the task."
The Wall Street Journal critic Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "We're clearly meant to see the duke [of Windsor] as a wastrel with heart. It doesn't quite come off—Mr. Jennings is far too convincing as an empty-hearted scoundrel—but it's a minor flaw in this superbly sustained work." Television critic Robert Lloyd writing for Los Angeles Times said, "As television it's excellent—beautifully mounted, movingly played and only mildly melodramatic." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post also reviewed the series positively: "Pieces of The Crown are more brilliant on their own than they are as a series, taken in as shorter, intently focused films like The Queen and another Morgan achievement, the play and film versions of Frost/Nixon." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "This is a thoughtful series that lingers over death rather than using it for shock value; one that finds its story lines in small power struggles rather than gruesome palace coups.". The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg reviewed the series positively and said, "The first chapter of Peter Morgan's chronicle of the rule of Queen Elizabeth II remains gripping across the entirety of the 10 episodes made available to critics, finding both emotional heft in Elizabeth's youthful ascension and unexpected suspense in matters of courtly protocol and etiquette." Other publications such as USA Today, Indiewire, The Atlantic, CNN and Variety all reviewed the series positively.
Some were more critical towards the show. In a less enthusiastic review for Time magazine, Daniel D'Addario wrote, "The show will be compared to Downton Abbey, but that late soap opera was able to invent ahistorical or at least unexpected notes, [Claire] Foy struggles mightily, but she's given little: Avoiding her children, her husband, and her subjects in favor of meetings at which she either acquiesces to her advisors or puts off acquiescing until fifteen minutes later, The Crown's Elizabeth is more than unknowable. She's a bore". Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz quipped, "The Crown never entirely figures out how to make the political and domestic drama genuinely dramatic, much less bestow complexity on characters outside England's innermost circle." Verne Gay of Newsday said, "Sumptuously produced but glacially told, The Crown is the TV equivalent of a long drive through the English countryside. The scenery keeps changing, but remains the same." Slate magazine's Willa Paskin, expressed "It will scratch your period drama itch—and leave you itchy for action." Writing for The Mail on Sunday, Hugo Vickers, an English biographer of the Royal Family, was of the opinion that "while [The Crown] certainly holds the attention, it is marred by a series of sensationalist errors and some quite remarkable lapses into vulgarity."
Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating for the second season based on 69 reviews, with an average rating of 8.45 /10. The websites critical consensus read "The Crown continues its reign with a self-assured sophomore season that indulges in high drama and sumptuous costumes." On Metacritic, the second season holds a score of 87 out of 100, based on 27 critics, retaining the first season's indication of "universal acclaim".
Claire Foy and Matt Smith both respectively earned significant praise from critics in their reprisal of their roles. Chancellor Agard of Entertainment Weekly wrote "As always, Claire Foy turns in an amazingly restrained performance." Gabriel Tate of The Daily Telegraph wrote "Matt Smith, too, has seldom been better. If the scripts do them justice, we could be in for another memorable series." Hugo Rifkind of The Times said "While ardent monarchists might bristle at the way this is going, for the rest of us it's getting better and better."
Alison Keene of Collider said "Like its first season, each new episode makes its mark and tells its own complete story, all while staying linked to Elizabeth's journey as a monarch, mother, and wife. It's another exceptionally strong season of television, full of compelling drama and sweeping grandeur." Krutika Malikarjuna of TV Guide wrote "Season 2 is centered on why the public-at-large (especially those outside of Britain) still engage with the royals at all: celebrity and star power. The brilliance of this framing becomes clear as the show evolves into The Real Housewives of Buckingham." Sophie Gilbert wrote for The Atlantic "This personal, complex portrayal of a monarch who by her own admission in the show would rather be living any other life is riveting enough. But The Crown is also a history lesson, as my colleague David Sims has put it, albeit a selective one. It's gorgeously shot, with flawless re-creations of everything from the Throne Room in Buckingham Palace to a 1950s hospital ward. And it's surprisingly funny."
The Wall Street Journal critic John Anderson said "The Crown attains genuine sexiness without sex. Margaret, à la Ms. Kirby's interpretation, smolders, as does Elizabeth, at least on occasion." Meghan O'Keefe of Decider wrote "Season Two of The Crown continues to romanticize the British royal family, but the romance comes from how they're normal, not divine."
Lesser praising reviews saw the series criticised for what some regarded as failing to meet the emotional intensity of the first season. John Doyle wrote for Globe and Mail "Yes, it is still so lavishly made that it is breathtaking. But The Crown now leans toward a three-hanky weeper about marriage. It is less than it was, like the monarchy itself, and of interest to monarchy fans only." Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx added "Many of the season's wounds are self-inflicted in particular Morgan's mystifying fascination with Prince Philip, who despite Matt Smith's best efforts still comes across as a whiny man child." Critic Phil Owen of The Wrap criticized Jeremy Northam's reprisal of Prime Minister Anthony Eden, saying "I'm assuming that creator Peter Morgan meant for it to be comedy. There's really no other explanation for why Jeremy Northam played Prime Minister Anthony Eden like he's having a nervous breakdown in every scene."
The Royal familyEdit
Adam Helliker from the Daily Express reported in May 2017 that Queen Elizabeth II and her third son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie had watched the first season together. Other royal family members who were fans of the first season included the queen's granddaughters Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall. While the Queen was reported to have enjoyed the series, she found some depictions of events to be over-dramatised.
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