Fancy pulling back the curtain to eavesdrop on the most private conversations of the word’s most famous monarchy? Netflix’s latest series The Crown does exactly that.
Premiering to triumphant acclaim, The Crown is based on Queen Elizabeth II’s epic reign. Starting in 1947, the show follows the early part of Her Majesty’s life including her wedding to Prince Philip, her ascent to the throne at 25 years old and her ailing Prime Minister Winston Churchill who grows too ill to govern a post-war Britain.
Creator Peter Morgan (whose film credits include The Queen and Frost/Nixon) came up with the idea of The Crown while writing his 2015 Tony Award-winning play The Audience, starring Helen Mirren who starred as an elderly version of the monarch. More than just a classy soap opera to fill the gaping hole left by Downton Abbey, The Crown is television at its finest, an outstanding achievement on every scale.
Here’s why you should watch the show.
1. The price tag
The 10-episode first series reportedly cost £100 million. Yes, that’s right, the price tag makes it the most expensive TV show ever made. Mega hits like Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey seem cheap in comparison. A huge portion of the nine figure sum was used on the wardrobe; the replica of the Queen’s wedding gown in the first episode reportedly cost more than the original dress…
2. The accuracy
The first episode opens as Princess Elizabeth’s future husband Philip Mountbatten is bestowed in the style of Royal Highness and the given the title of Duke of Edinburgh. They’re later married in a lavish ceremony before the story skips the births of their first two children, Charles and Anne. The second episode picks up in 1952 on the eve of Elizabeth’s coronation, following her father King George VI’s death and her immediate ascension to the throne, with later episodes focusing on key moments during the Queen’s life. The accuracy of the show invites the audience into a world that strips the shiny exterior to reveal intimate conversations from the most private people in the world.
3. The talent
The show has assembled an impressive cast. Wolf Hall actress Claire Foy is admirably quaint as the newly-appointed Queen Elizabeth II. The young monarch attempts to balance her private and public lives and grows more determined to make her marriage work in light of her new position. Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith is easily likeable as Prince Philip; he’s immediately charming as the foreigner who struggles to find his place and purpose as his wife becomes the most powerful woman in the world. John Lithgow convinces as Winston Churchill, a once-decorated war hero who can’t deal with his deteriorating health and the power politics at play within his own government during his second term as Prime Minister. But the standout here is Vanessa Kirby, who plays the role Princess Margaret, the Queen’s reckless younger sister who’s determined to get what she wants, envious of Elizabeth’s time in the spotlight and the power she holds. Other cast members include Mad Men star Jared Harris as Elizabeth’s father King George VI and Victoria Hamilton as the Queen’s Mother to round off a strong cast.
All 10 episodes of The Crown are available on Netflix now.
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