'The Crown': Prince Charles's friend Alan Titchmarsh says show is 'playing with people’s lives'

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Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh has accused Netflix’s The Crown of “playing with people’s lives” as he continues his boycott of the most recent season of the show.

Titchmarsh, a friend of Prince Charles, said he did not think it was a good idea for drama programmes to be made about real people and their private lives.

The presenter is one of many who have criticised Netflix since the release of the fourth season, which covered the 1980s and introduced Princess Diana and Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall.

Speaking to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain, Titchmarsh said: “I watched the first two series, which were sufficiently distant historically to be interesting. Now we are getting much closer to the present day and so much of it is conjecture.

“We weren’t behind those closed doors when things were going on. To say, ‘Oh, it’s a drama’ – I think it is playing with people’s lives.

The Crown S4. Picture shows: Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN) and Prince Charles (JOSH O CONNOR). Filming Location: Kensington Town Hall
Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Prince Josh O'Connor) in a scene from season 4 of The Crown. (Netflix)
The Crown S4
The Royal Family as depicted by the actors in The Crown, season 4. (Netflix)

“Whether it’s the Prince of Wales or whether it is you or me. If somebody made a drama about we three and our private lives and they just made it up and said, ‘Well, it’s a drama really’.

“You are using real people. Whoever they are, I don’t think it is a good idea. That’s just me.”

Last month, Titchmarsh interviewed Earl Spencer, the late Diana’s brother, and revealed he had decided to boycott the show after the first couple of seasons.

Earl Spencer has said he worries that people feel they have “had a history lesson” when watching The Crown.

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden joined calls for Netflix to add a warning to the show explaining that it was a drama, but Netflix has declined.

Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles, said it was “outrageous” to suggest the season needed a disclaimer, but his onscreen aunt Helena Bonham-Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, said it should be stressed that it’s “dramatised”.

The show’s makers admitted making up one scene to “break hearts”, in a podcast about the programme.

The Prince of Wales, (left), talks with Alan Titchmarsh, (centre) and Kim Lavely, Chief Executive of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health after he presented the foundation's annual awards in London today.
The Prince of Wales and Alan Titchmarsh at an awards ceremony together in London. (Getty Images)

Annie Sulzberger, head of research for The Crown, and director Jessica Hobbs said a scene featuring Diana, played by Emma Corrin, singing for Prince Charles was invented once they knew the actor could sing.

Hobbs said: “Our understanding was that she’d done a dance for him that was filmed on stage, in the costumes, on the real set. That’s what we understood from the research. So we extended that to her singing.”

Sulzberger added: “Let’s have her sing it because it’s going to break our hearts, right?”

The Crown S4. Picture shows: Prince Charles (JOSH O CONNOR) and Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)
Josh O'Connor, here as Prince Charles with Emma Corrin as Diana, has said the show does not need a disclaimer. (Netflix)
The Crown S4. Picture shows: Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)
Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in the replica wedding dress. (Netflix)

Clarence House had to turn off its Twitter replies for a short period of time because of a large number of negative responses directed at Camilla following the depiction of Charles and Camilla’s relationship in the show.

Seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown will take the Royal Family into the 1990s, but the show will end after season 6.

Creator Peter Morgan has previously said he intends to keep a 20-year buffer on the show, to ensure distance and perspective on events.

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