The Crown actor Dominic West says people can watch a documentary if they don't want 'imaginative speculation'

The Crown actor Dominic West has hit back at criticism season five has generated, describing the royal drama as "imaginative speculation" and advising people who don't approve to watch documentaries instead.

West, who plays Prince Charles in the hit Netflix series, told Sky News at the London premiere of the show's return: "It's a drama, an imaginative speculation in a way.

"I watched every documentary that has ever been made about my character, and there are plenty of those that people can watch if you don't want to watch what a great dramatist has created imaginatively."

Season five returns to the screens two months after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The actor has taken on the role of playing Prince Charles in the 90s at what is now a sensitive settling-in period for the new King.

The show's time-jump sees old scandals presented to a fresh TV audience.

"I think a lot of sensibilities have obviously been stirred up after the death of the Queen, but this is a show that has always courted controversy the closer that it's got to our own times.

"Everyone has very strong opinions, we all have our memories and our opinions of those times and I think people who tune in to watch it are ultimately open to having that challenged or confirmed in whatever way that may be."

Read more:
Why has The Crown become so controversial?

From tell-all books to toxic relationships, power-plays to that Panorama interview - it is a Diana-heavy time jump that the series makes.

Elizabeth Debicki was tasked with playing one of the most scrutinised women in the world at one of most scandalous times for the Royal Family.

The actress told Sky News she feels the show "fair to both parties" in its telling of Charles and Diana's divorce.

"I think all great drama has the possibility to bring understanding and empathy and connection to the very human elements of the story."

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Following on from Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, it is the turn of Imelda Staunton to embody the woman at centre of it all, an older incarnation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Staunton said she learned of the Queen's death during filming and "that evening I was inconsolable".

"I was surprised at my reaction. And then I thought, well, I suppose I've been living with her so closely for two and a half years."

As for the two prime ministers - Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair - who've been critical of their appearances in the series without having seen the show, Staunton said her priorities have been blocking out any outside distractions.

"I don't read newspapers and I'm not interested in what's going on because we're still filming…they're going to say what they're going to say, we still have to do it, it's still going to be on tomorrow, and I think the public, my hope is, that they will feel, in a way, a bit of comfort from being with this family for a little longer."