The Crown, a Netflix drama that chronicles the lives of the British royal family decade by decade, has been controversial television since it premiered in 2016.
Detractors have long quibbled over the facts. Some have objected to series creator Peter Morgan’s depiction of certain central figures, notably Prince Phillip and the Queen.
Ahead of the release of the show’s fifth season, which takes place in the Nineties, calls for the show to be candid about the extent to which it fictionalises real-life events have intensified.
Netflix has responded by adding such a disclaimer to the most recently released trailer for the series.
Now, members of The Crown’s cast are speaking out in defence of Morgan and their show.
Bafta-winning actor Imelda Staunton, who plays Queen Elizabeth II in the forthcoming series, spoke of the showrunner’s “affection” for the royal family.
“Peter Morgan has obviously got a huge affection for this family having done the film The Queen, then The Audience, then The Crown”, she told Variety in an interview released Thursday (27 October).
“I don’t think he would have bothered to keep going if he wasn’t quite emotionally, I think, involved with it.”
Other season five cast members – such as Oscar-winner Jonathan Pryce, who plays Prince Phillip – have addressed the criticism more directly.
Speaking to Deadline, Pryce said that while he understands former prime minister John Major “voicing his disquiet because he was there” at the time, he is “hugely disappointed by my fellow artistes”.
He also said of The Crown’s viewership that “the vast majority of people know it’s a drama” because “they’ve been watching it for four seasons”.
Dench is not the only actor to publicly address this issue. She is joined by Helena Bonham Carter, who played Princess Margaret in seasons three and four.
In 2020, Carter said: “It is dramatised. I do feel very strongly, because I think we have a moral responsibility to say, ‘Hang on guys, this is not … it’s not a drama-doc, we’re making a drama.’ So they are two different entities.”