|Created by||Peter Morgan|
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||40|
|Production location||United Kingdom|
|Running time||47-61 minutes|
|Distributor||Netflix Streaming Services|
|Picture format||4K (Ultra HD)|
|Original release||4 November 2016 -|
The Crown is a historical drama streaming television series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, created and principally written by Peter Morgan, and produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. Morgan developed it from his drama film The Queen (2006) and especially his stage play The Audience (2013). The first season covers the period from Elizabeth's marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to the disintegration of her sister Princess Margaret's engagement to Group Captain Peter Townsend in 1955. The second season covers the period from the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the retirement of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963 and the birth of Prince Edward in 1964. The third season spans 1964 to 1977, includes Harold Wilson's two periods as prime minister, and introduces Camilla Shand. The fourth season spans 1979 to the early 1990s and includes Margaret Thatcher's tenure as prime minister and Lady Diana Spencer's marriage to Prince Charles. The fifth and sixth seasons, which will close the series, will cover the Queen's reign into the 21st century.
New actors are 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. For the third and fourth seasons, Olivia Colman takes over as the Queen, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, and Lesley Manville will succeed Colman, Menzies, and Bonham Carter, respectively, for the final two seasons. Filming takes place at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with location shooting throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The first season was released by Netflix on 4 November 2016, the second on 8 December 2017, the third on 17 November 2019, and the fourth on 15 November 2020. The fifth season is anticipated in 2022. As of 2020, the estimated production budget of The Crown has been reported to be $260 million, making it one of the most expensive television series in history.
The Crown has been praised for its acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and production values, although its historical inaccuracies have received some criticism, particularly within the fourth season. Nevertheless, it received accolades at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards, won Best Actress for Foy in the lead role and Best Actor for John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, and has secured a total of thirty nine nominations for its first three seasons at the Primetime Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Drama Series. The series was nominated for Best Drama TV Series at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
The first season 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 the Suez Crisis in 1956, leading to the retirement of Prime Minister Anthony Eden; the retirement of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963, following the scandal of the Profumo affair; and the birth of Prince Edward in 1964.
The third season covers 1964 to 1977, beginning with Harold Wilson's election as prime minister and ending with her Silver Jubilee, also covering Edward Heath's time as prime minister.Camilla Shand is also introduced. The fourth season is set during Margaret Thatcher's period as prime minister and also focuses on Lady Diana Spencer. Princes William and Harry are also introduced.
The following actors are credited in the opening titles of single episodes in which they play a significant role:
|1||10||4 November 2016|
|2||10||8 December 2017|
|3||10||17 November 2019|
|4||10||15 November 2020|
In November 2014, it was announced that Netflix was to adapt the 2013 stage play The Audience into a television series.Peter Morgan, who wrote the 2006 film The Queen and the play, 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 ten-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 sixty 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 third and fourth seasons.
In January 2020, Morgan announced that the series had been renewed for a fifth and final season. Speaking to ending the series with five seasons, after it had been intended to last six, Morgan said while crafting the stories for season five, "it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop"; Netflix and Sony supported Morgan's decision. However, in July 2020 Netflix announced that the series would receive a sixth season as originally intended. Morgan said that when the storylines were being discussed for season five, "it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons". He added that the final two seasons would enable them "to cover the same period in greater detail".
By November 2014, Claire Foy had entered negotiations to portray Queen Elizabeth II. By May 2015, 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 Philip; Foy was confirmed as Queen Elizabeth II. Also starring in the first season were Victoria Hamilton, Jared Harris, and Eileen Atkins.
The Left Bank producers noted that Smith was paid more than Foy in the first two seasons, partly because of his Doctor Who fame. This led to discussion about the gender pay gap, including the creation of a petition asking Smith to donate the difference between his and Foy's salary to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Left Bank later apologised to Foy and Smith for putting them "at the center of a media storm... through no fault of their own". Left Bank also clarified that they "are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues". They added that they support "the drive for gender equality in film and TV and [were] eager to talk to the British Time's Up campaign and [were] already speaking to Era 50:50, a group campaigning for gender equality on screen and stage". Suzanne Mackie, Left Bank's creative director, did note that in future no actor would be paid more than the actress portraying the Queen. Regarding the controversy, Foy was "not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I'm not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, 'Oh, that's a bit odd'. But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it's odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn't particularly ask for." Smith noted that he supported Foy and was "pleased that it was resolved and [the producers] made amends for it because that's what needed to happen". The Hollywood Reporter noted it was unclear what Smith was referring to as resolved, since Netflix and Left Bank had not commented further. Foy later described reports that she had received backpay to bring her salary up to parity as "not quite correct".
The producers recast the continuing roles with older actors every two seasons, as the timeline moves forward. 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 these seasons. However, by the end of the month Bettany was forced to drop out due to the time commitment required. By the end of March 2018, Tobias Menzies was cast as Prince Philip for the third and fourth seasons. In early May 2018, Bonham Carter was confirmed to have been cast, alongside Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The next month, Ben Daniels was cast as Tony Armstrong-Jones for the third season, along with Erin Doherty joining the series as Princess Anne. A month later, Josh O'Connor and Marion Bailey were cast as Prince Charles and the Queen Mother, respectively, for the third and fourth seasons. In October 2018, Emerald Fennell was cast as Camilla Shand. In December 2018, Charles Dance was cast as Louis Mountbatten. In April 2019, Emma Corrin was cast as Lady Diana Spencer for the fourth season.Gillian Anderson, who had been rumoured since January 2019 to be in talks to portray Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season, was officially confirmed for the role in September 2019.
In January 2020, Imelda Staunton was announced as succeeding Colman as the Queen in the fifth season, with her role in the final season reported in July. Also in July 2020, Lesley Manville was announced as portraying Princess Margaret, and the following month, Jonathan Pryce and Elizabeth Debicki had been cast as Prince Philip and Diana, Princess of Wales, respectively. In October 2020, Dominic West was in talks to play Prince Charles.
An estimated 25% of the first season was filmed at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with the remainder filmed on location, altogether taking 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 to double as Buckingham Palace. Ely Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey, while locations in South Africa doubled as Kenya. Additional locations in the UK included Waddesdon Manor, 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, Wellington College, the Great Central Railway (heritage railway) and the Glenfeshie Estate. Filming on the second season began in early October 2016. Each episode of the first two seasons would shoot for about 22 days, with each costing about £5 million to produce. The third season began filming in July 2018, and concluded in February 2019. The fourth season began filming in August 2019 and wrapped in March 2020. The fifth season is set to begin filming in June 2021, with season six filming in 2022. The year break in filming between the end of season four and the start of season five was built into the series's production schedule and was not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The re-enactment of the removal of King George VI's cancerous lung, originally performed by Sir Clement Price Thomas, was researched and planned by Pankaj Chandak, specialist in transplant surgery at Guy's Hospital, London. Chandak and his surgical team then became part of the actual scene filmed for the show. The surgical model of King George VI was donated to the Gordon Museum of Pathology for use as a teaching aid.
The series has been both commended and criticised for its depiction of historical events.
Though the show depicted a dispute over Michael Adeane being the natural successor to Tommy Lascelles as the Queen's private secretary, this did not, in reality, happen; Martin Charteris accordingly took the role in 1972.
Churchill's wife Clementine is depicted as overseeing the burning of her husband's portrait by artist Graham Sutherland shortly after Churchill's retirement. In reality, the painting was destroyed by the brother of their private secretary, Grace Hamblin, without the involvement of Hamblin herself.
Royal historian Hugo Vickers denied that Princess Margaret had acted as monarch whilst the Queen was on tour, and claimed that her speech at the ambassador's reception never happened. Charteris was on tour with the Queen and not in London during these events. The Queen Mother bought the Castle of Mey a year earlier than depicted on the show, and often looked after Prince Charles and Princess Anne whilst the Queen was away.
The show has been interpreted as perpetuating the idea that the Queen and Churchill forced Princess Margaret to give up her plan to marry Peter Townsend, and depicted the Queen informing her that, due to the Royal Marriages Act 1772, she would no longer be a member of the family if they married. However, there is clear evidence that, in reality, efforts had been made to prevent any further delay, which would have allowed Princess Margaret to keep her royal title and her civil list allowance, stay in the country, and continue with her public duties.
After season two was released, Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal commented on its historical inaccuracy, and argued for "more truth in art and entertainment".Baron Nahum, for instance, continued to be featured in the season, but in reality had died in 1956. The show also depicts the Queen as giving a speech at a Jaguar factory, when in reality there is no evidence that she gave a speech there. Similarly, while it is possible that she might have met Lord Altrincham to discuss his article, there is no record of it.
Vickers wrote that the Queen did condemn the Duke of Windsor after she read the Marburg Files, but suggested that the series gave the false implication that the Duke was banished from the royal family upon publication. In reality, the Duke remained in contact with his family, and his public appearances continued.
The depiction of the relationship between the American First Lady Jackie Kennedy and the royal family also drew criticism as inaccurate; reports from the time indicate that she had described Prince Philip as "nice but nervous", with no real bond between them. The implication that the Queen visited Ghana to compete with Kennedy's popularity was ridiculed by critics. Reviews noted that that episode ignored more significant events, such as Kennedy's sister-in-law Lee and her husband Prince Stanis?aw Albrecht Radziwi's initial exclusion from the banquet invitation list due to their divorcee status; they were eventually invited, although Princess Margaret and Princess Marina did not attend, despite the Kennedys apparently wanting to meet them.
Gordonstoun School responded to its negative portrayal, claiming that Prince Charles's personal feedback to the school had been overwhelmingly positive. Vickers said that the same episode inaccurately depicted Prince Philip's sister's death in a plane crash as having arisen from his own misbehaviour at Gordonstoun: "It is beyond me how serious film-makers would wish to turn such a dreadful tragedy into a series of invented scenes bearing no relation to the truth".
Phil Owen of The Wrap saw dry comedy in Northam's portrayal of Prime Minister Eden, stating: "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 Queen did not visit Churchill following his final stroke. Vickers claims that by then he was senile and incapable of holding a conversation.Anthony Blunt's exposure as a Soviet spy also drew criticism. Vickers noted that the episode did not mention that he was publicly exposed in 1979 and stripped of his knighthood, whilst also noting that he never resided at Buckingham Palace and ridiculing a scene in which he discusses his exposure with Prince Philip in an attempt to blackmail the royal family.
The depiction of the relationship with President Johnson has been criticised. It has been suggested that he did not refuse to attend Churchill's funeral, in response to Wilson's refusal to support the Vietnam War, but that he was genuinely unable due to poor health. His disappointment with Wilson's views on Vietnam had developed much later. Historians also denied the episode's implication that no US president had ever been to Balmoral; Eisenhower had visited Balmoral whilst president in 1959. Critics noted that the episode did not mention that Johnson had been the only president since Truman never to have met the Queen. The implication that Johnson did not know who Princess Margaret was before her visit to America was also criticised. The Princess did attend a White House dinner, but the details are mostly fictional (such as her carousing with Johnson and kissing him, dirty limericks, and helping secure a US bailout, which in fact had already been negotiated).
The relationship with Princess Alice has also drawn criticism for Prince Philip's depiction as being estranged from his mother and objecting to her visiting London. In reality, he visited her regularly and often transported her by plane, and her depicted interview with a journalist from The Guardian never happened. Vickers also stated that the same episode ignored that Prince Philip encouraged her to move to London permanently.
Prince Charles did visit the Duke of Windsor in Paris in 1972, although the depiction of the letters concerning his affections for Camilla was criticised: the Prince and Camilla had met, but were not intimately close during the Duke's lifetime. The Queen did visit the Duke ten days before his death, but this had been long-planned and not requested at short notice. Simpson was not with the Duke when he died.
The timeframe of Woods's posting as Dean of Windsor around the time of the Apollo 11 spaceflight and lunar landing in July 1969 is inaccurate, as he had taken the role in 1962.Prince William of Gloucester had also died five years before the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
It has been suggested that there was no plot by the palace to prevent Prince Charles and Camilla's marriage, with Camilla's love for Andrew Parker Bowles being genuine, and Prince Charles unable to decide. It has also been suggested that Princess Anne's relations with Andrew Parker Bowles did not overlap with Prince Charles and Camilla's introduction. Reviews of the episode noted that it ignored more significant events, citing Princess Anne's 1973 wedding to Captain Mark Phillips and her attempted kidnapping in 1974.
Vickers further argued that season four is "yet more subtly divisive than earlier seasons", with "pretty much every character" shown as "dislikeable", and that "every member of the royal family ... comes out of it badly, except the Princess of Wales". Royal commentator Emily Andrews said that "sources close to Prince Charles" have labelled some of the scenes "trolling on a Hollywood budget".
The opening scene when Prince Charles first meets Diana is fictionalised, although they did meet during a date with her sister. Vickers has stated that Prince Charles had no personal contact with Camilla during the first five years of his marriage; their relationship developed after 1986, by which time the marriage had broken down. The frenzy around Prince Charles and Diana's Australian tour is accurately depicted, including his feelings of being overshadowed by Diana, which have been confirmed by multiple sources. Diana's former press secretary has confirmed their fractious relationship when away from the media. Their schedule was never revised to accommodate Prince William, and the sheep station was arranged for them in advance by the former Australian Prime Minister, specifically so that the couple could be with their son each night. According to Dickie Arbiter, the meeting in which Sir John Riddell, the Prince of Wales's private secretary, questions Diana's mental fitness before her solo trip to New York never happened.
Mountbatten did not write to the Prince of Wales shortly before he died, although he had written advising him in the past. The newsreel clips of Northern Ireland shown alongside Mountbatten's assassination included events that had happened years earlier, and others that had not yet occurred.
Vickers suggested that almost all the details concerning how visitors are treated at Balmoral are inaccurate, and noted that the Thatchers' first visit is depicted out of sequence with Mountbatten's funeral. The Thatchers did not enjoy their visits to Balmoral, but there is no evidence that the Prime Minister dressed inappropriately. Diana's visit happened an entire year later, when the Queen was not present. He added that Diana was already familiar with royal etiquette, and would not have needed the intense tuition portrayed.
Charles Moore deemed the scene where Thatcher begs the Queen to dissolve Parliament so she can stay on PM "factual nonsense". It is true, however, that she used to do her own ironing at Downing Street. It is unlikely that Prince Philip ever mocked her for being a scientist, given his own interest in the sciences. Mark Thatcher going missing during the Dakar Rally did not coincide with the Falklands invasion.
Fagan has said that his conversation with the Queen in the palace bedroom was "short, polite and non-controversial", and that he never spoke about Margaret Thatcher, nor was he wrestled to the ground by the police.
The scene where the Queen guesses who the Prime Minister might appoint to cabinet is entirely fictional, nor would the PM have ever left a royal audience early or criticised the Queen for her privilege. Vickers says that, in reality, it was the Queen's press secretary who took it upon himself to pass his own views about the Prime Minister to the media, and he was forced to leave the palace as a consequence.
The plot involving the family's relationship with the Bowes-Lyon sisters is largely inaccurate. Princess Margaret played no part in discovering their existence, nor did she confront her mother about this. John "Jock" Bowes-Lyon died six years before Edward VIII's abdication, and the sisters were placed in the Royal Earlswood Hospital by their mother Fenella in 1941. The Queen Mother believed her nieces to be dead until 1982, and, upon discovering that they were alive, sent money for toys and sweets on their birthdays and at Christmas. According to the Bowes-Lyon family, there was never any attempt at a coverup. The relationship between Princess Margaret and Father Derek "Dazzle" Jennings is heavily fictionalised. Jennings did not have any involvement with the Bowes-Lyon sisters, and remained Princess Margaret's friend and spiritual advisor, with the Princess visiting his sickbed before he died in 1995. Princess Margaret's interest in Catholicism is underplayed; she did not convert, but Jennings reportedly was convinced that she would, going so far as to arrange a dinner between the Princess and Cardinal Hume in 1988.
The series's first two episodes were released in the United Kingdom on 1 November 2016. The first season was released worldwide in its entirety on 4 November 2016. The second season was released on 8 December 2017. The third season was released on 17 November 2019. The fourth season was released on 15 November 2020. The fifth season is set to be released in 2022.
The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 16 October 2017 and worldwide on 7 November. The second season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 22 October 2018 and worldwide on 13 November 2018. The third season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 2 November 2020 and worldwide on 3 November 2020.
|1||88% (74 reviews)||81 (29 reviews)|
|2||89% (83 reviews)||87 (27 reviews)|
|3||90% (100 reviews)||84 (30 reviews)|
|4||97% (106 reviews)||85 (27 reviews)|
The Crown has been praised as a drama, being described by The Telegraph as "TV's best soap opera" and given a 5/5 rating, although some reviewers, such as in The Times, raised concerns that some of the episodes are based on false premises. The series received an overall score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and 84 on Metacritic.
For the first season, Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported 88% approval based on 74 reviews with an average rating of 8.61/10. Its critical consensus reads, "Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject".Metacritic gives the season a score of 81 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". For the second season, Rotten Tomatoes reported 89% approval from 83 reviews, with an average of 8.35/10: "The Crown continues its reign with a self-assured sophomore season that indulges in high drama and sumptuous costumes". Metacritic holds a score of 87 out of 100, based on 27 critics, with "universal acclaim". For the third season, Rotten Tomatoes reported 90% approval based on 100 reviews, with an average of 8.54/10: "Olivia Colman shines, but as The Crown marches on in reliably luxurious fashion through time it finds space for the characters around her, providing ample opportunity for the appealing ensemble to gleam, too." Metacritic gives a score of 84 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". For the fourth season, Rotten Tomatoes reports 97% approval from 106 reviews, with an average of 8.64/10. Its critical consensus reads: "Whatever historical liberties [the season] takes...are easily forgiven thanks to the sheer power of its performances - particularly Gillian Anderson's imposing take on The Iron Lady and newcomer Emma Corrin's embodiment of a young Princess Diana". On Metacritic, the season holds a score of 85 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
However, the series has also received backlash from British critics and the royal family. British reviewers have criticised the fourth season for being "inaccurate" and "anti-monarchy".Simon Jenkins writing in The Guardian described it as "fake history", "reality hijacked as propaganda, and a cowardly abuse of artistic licence" which fabricated history to suit its own preconceived narrative, and argued that "Morgan could have made his point truthfully". Royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith criticised the inaccuracies and negative portrayal of the royal family, stating, "Because The Crown is such a lavish and expensive production, so beautifully acted and cleverly written, and so much attention has been paid to visual details about historical events, viewers are tricked into believing that what they are seeing actually happened", concluding that "while the earlier seasons were period pieces, this is recent history, so it seems more cruel in its false depictions". Following some negative reactions to the fourth season, British culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, suggested that the series should have a fiction warning at the beginning as a disclaimer.
STIRLING H. NAHUM DIES; Was Official Photographer at Coronation of Elizabeth II.