The Crown season four is right around the corner and everyone wants to know what the show does with Princess Diana.
The cast for the new series is largely unchanged. Having replaced the key character actors last time around to facilitate its timeline, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Josh O'Connor and Erin Doherty all return to their roles as the main royals.
We do however have one highly anticipated newcomer and, from the moment she first appears, Emma Corrin does not disappoint as a young Lady Diana Frances Spencer.
From the tone of her voice to her subtle head movements, Corrin has absolutely nailed the quirks and mannerisms of the people's princess. Audiences will get a glimpse at Diana and Charles' very first meeting – did you know that he actually dated her older sister first? How very Boleyn! – and then watch the mechanics of their courtship develop into the most talked-about engagement in the country.
It's fitting that when Diana is first seen on screen she is in theatrical costume, peeping out from behind a mask. As Corrin explores and develops the character throughout the episodes, a clear picture emerges of a young woman who was playing a part during public appearances. This is by no means to say that she wasn't genuine in her protocol-breaking empathy towards others, but instead that she was putting on a brave face to hide the struggle she was feeling and experiencing behind closed doors.
One cause for concern was whether The Crown would depict Princess Diana's bulimia and poor mental health, and do so in a responsible way. Each episode that contains scenes relating to her eating disorder are duly labelled with a content warning, with a call to action directing to resources. The show does not hold back in revealing the extent of her illness, and it also quickly became painfully clear that neither the royal family nor British society at that time were equipped with the knowledge of how to support a person through such experiences.
As we've come to expect, season four ticks off some of the biggest and most recognisable moments from the eras it spans. For Diana, this includes her wedding day (complete with The Dress), the famous Australian tour which saw her break with tradition and insist on taking baby Prince William along, the beginnings of her humanitarian work and – of course – the cracks forming in her marriage to Prince Charles.
We'd be remiss not to mention the other big casting addition for the new season: the powerhouse that is Gillian Anderson. Margaret Thatcher is not an easy role to take on; arguably the most divisive Prime Minister the country has ever had, and one whose policy and legacy hurt millions of people.
As a result, Thatcher has become a caricature. Her features and known personality traits could have so easily been amplified to an almost comical extent. But Anderson, for the most part, reins this in and strikes the right balance between humanising her without ever invoking sympathy or understanding.
What struck as particularly clever was the way in which the rampant and systemic sexism that no doubt befell the country's first female Prime Minister was explored without holding her up as a hero of positive representation. She may have been a woman, but she was certainly not a progressive and the series hit those notes well.
Political and social issues of the time are woven throughout the new episodes, and explored with particular poignancy in a number of the standalone stories. What's more, parallels can certainly be drawn between the mindsets of that time and some of the themes we're dealing with in the present day.
Following a middle of the road season three, The Crown's fourth outing is the show back at its best. You may well come to it for the visual feast of Diana and Thatcher, but you'll leave with lots of food for thought - the mark of great telly.
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