The Crown (TV series)
|Created by||Peter Morgan|
|Written by||Peter Morgan|
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||54–61 minutes|
|Original release||November 4, 2016|
The Crown is an American-British television drama series, created and written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures for Netflix. The show is a biographical story about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The first season, comprising 10 one-hour episodes, was released in its entirety on November 4, 2016. Reception to the series was overwhelmingly positive, with critics praising cast performances, direction, writing, cinematography, production values, and relatively accurate historical accounts of Queen Elizabeth's reign. A second season has been commissioned.
The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to the present day. It is expected to span 60 episodes over six seasons, with Claire Foy playing the Queen in the early part of her reign.
The first season depicts events from 1947 to 1955.
- Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II
- Matt Smith as Prince Philip
- Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret
- Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary
- Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden
- Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
- Ben Miles as Peter Townsend
- Greg Wise as Lord Louis Mountbatten
- Jared Harris as King George VI
- Stephen Dillane as Graham Sutherland
- John Lithgow as Winston Churchill
- Harry Hadden-Paton as Martin Charteris
- Andy Sanderson as Prince Henry
- Michael Culkin as Rab Butler
- Nicholas Rowe as Jock Colville
- Harriet Walter as Clementine Churchill
- Alex Jennings as Edward, Duke of Windsor
- Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles
- Simon Chandler as Clement Attlee
- Clive Francis as Lord Salisbury
- Lia Williams as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor
- Paul Sheridan as Eden's Aide
- David Shields as Colin Tennant
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Wolferton Splash"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In 1947, Prince Philip of Denmark and Greece (Matt Smith) gives up his royal titles and all foreign relations in order to be allowed to marry Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy), heiress presumptive of King George VI (Jared Harris). The couple have two children together, Charles and Anne, and live in Malta, where Philip serves as Lieutenant-Commander of the Royal Navy. In 1951, they return to London when George has to undergo lung surgery; soon after, he learns he has months to live due to a malignant tumor in his remaining lung. In the knowledge he has very little time left with his family and that Elizabeth will soon be Queen, George counsels Philip on how best to assist his wife in the challenge ahead. Meanwhile, Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) is reelected after six years out of government, a move of which George approves.|
|2||"Hyde Park Corner"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Due to King George's ongoing ill health, Elizabeth and Philip tour the Commonwealth in his place. While they are in Kenya on safari, George is found dead in his bed to the devastation of his wife Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton), his mother Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins), and Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby). In the African bush, Elizabeth is unreachable and the event is spread via radio to the world before she can be informed. Philip breaks the news to his wife, who then returns to the UK to unite with her family in their grief.|
|3||"Windsor"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Through flashbacks, the abdication of King Edward (Alex Jennings) is explored. In 1952, Edward, now known by the title of Duke of Windsor, returns to the UK for his brother's funeral. There is deep animosity between the Duke and both his mother, Queen Mary, and sister-in-law Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who he nicknames 'Cookie', in his letters to his wife Wallis (Lia Williams). Elizabeth meets with Churchill and discusses two of Philip's demands: firstly, the family keeps his name of Mountbatten, and secondly, they remain living at Clarence House rather than moving to Buckingham Palace. Churchill is reluctant to bend to either demand, and the counsel of her uncle Edward convinces Elizabeth to drop the requests, to Philip's fury. Churchill also pushes back Elizabeth's coronation to over a year away, which Elizabeth recognises to be to secure his own power against his party, who believe him too old to be Prime Minister.|
|4||"Act of God"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|A great smog covers London, which Churchill deems an 'Act of God' and mere weather. People begin dying, including Churchill's favoured secretary Venetia Scott (Kate Phillips), who is hit by a bus due to bad visibility. Elizabeth is pressured to ask Churchill to step down, but is reluctant as royalty does not usually involve itself with the affairs of government. However, with Churchill blamed for the smog and not taking action, she decides to call him to see her. However, Churchill makes an impassioned speech at a hospital after visiting Venetia's body, and Elizabeth changes her mind after the fog clears moments before their meeting. Meanwhile, Philip begins flying lessons from the Royal Family's aide, Group Captain Peter Townsend (Ben Miles).|
|5||"Smoke and Mirrors"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Queen Mary dies, prompting the Duke of Windsor to make another return trip. He clashes with Elizabeth's Private Secretary Tommy Lascelles (Pip Torrens) when he asks Edward not to attend the upcoming coronation and informs him that his wife Wallis will not receive an invitation. Elizabeth places Philip in charge of her coronation, and he upsets most of the committee with his insistence that it should be a modern affair, notably deciding to televise the event. He also requests that he should not have to kneel to Elizabeth while she is being crowned, a request which she refuses, causing unrest between the couple about the line between Queen and wife. Elizabeth is crowned at Westminster Abbey, while Edward hosts a viewing of the coronation from his house in Paris.|
|6||"Gelignite"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) and Group Captain Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) ask the Queen's permission to marry, but Tommy Lascelles (Pip Torrens) and the Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton) are against it. A newspaper gets wind of the story, and starts publishing articles about the relationship. The Queen originally promises to support Margaret, but on reflection explains that it must wait until Margaret is 25, thanks to the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Elizabeth and Philip take Peter with them on a trip to Northern Ireland to show their support, before he is due to head to Brussels on duty. But the popularity shown to Peter by the press and public causes Tommy Lascelles to recommend that the posting to Brussels happen early, before Margaret returns from a trip to Southern Rhodesia. This affects the Queen's relationship with her sister forever.|
|7||"Scientia Potentia Est"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|8||"Pride & Joy"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|With Elizabeth and Philip away on a stressful tour of the Commonwealth, Margaret takes on more royal engagements with mixed results. The Queen Mother goes to Scotland to reflect on her new position in the Royal Family, and ends up buying a castle. Elizabeth (King George's pride) and Margaret (King George's joy) declare their mutual envy.|
|9||"Assassins"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Philip begins spending more and more time out of the house, while Elizabeth begins to spend more and more time with her old friend Porchey, a horse manager and old friend of the Royal Family who many had expected and even arranged for Elizabeth to marry. As tension arises, including Elizabeth having a direct line put in for Porchey to call Buckingham Palace, the two have an angry confrontation, which leads to Elizabeth telling Philip afterwards that, despite the fact a marriage with Porchey was more desired and perhaps would have even worked out better, the only person she had ever loved in her entire life was Philip. Following a moving speech at a dinner at Downing Street for Churchill's 80th birthday, Philip silently apologises to Elizabeth, but the tension continues. Graham Sutherland (Stephen Dillane) paints Churchill's portrait for his 80th birthday.|
|10||"Gloriana"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
Peter Morgan, who wrote the 2006 film The Queen and the 2013 stage play The Audience, is the main scriptwriter for The Crown. The directors of the television series who were also involved in the stage production are Stephen Daldry, Philip Martin, Julian Jarrold, and Benjamin Caron. The first 10-part season was the most expensive drama produced by Netflix and Left Bank Pictures to date, costing at least £100 million. A second season was commissioned and began production before the first season was released.
Filming took place in South Africa and the United Kingdom including Hatfield House and The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent, which was used for the London Docks scenes in the third and fourth episodes.
The show has been interpreted by some as perpetuating the myth that The Queen and Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden forced Princess Margaret to give up the idea of marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend. In reality, evidence shows they produced a plan to remove the hurdle holding up the marriage. In contradiction to the TV dramatization this plan would have allowed Princess Margaret to keep her royal title and her civil list allowance, stay in the country and even continue with her public duties. Instead of opposing the marriage, Eden summed up the Queen's attitude in a letter to the Commonwealth prime ministers: "Her Majesty would not wish to stand in the way of her sister's happiness." Whereas in the dramatization The Queen is seen telling her sister that if she marries Townsend before the age of twenty-five, she will no longer be a member of the family because of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating based on 43 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 81 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
The Guardian's TV critic Lucy Mangan praised the series and said, "Netflix can rest assured that its £100m gamble has paid off. This first series, about good old British phlegm from first to last, is the service's crowning achievement so far." Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Ben Lawrence said, "The Crown is a PR triumph for The Windsors, a compassionate piece of work that humanises them in a way that has never been seen before. It is a portrait of an extraordinary family, an intelligent comment on the effects of the constitution on their personal lives and a fascinating account of postwar Britain all rolled into one." Chief television critic Jaci Stephen of The Mail on Sunday lauded the series and said, "Faultless is the only word for The Crown with its exquisite writing and magnificent acting." Writing for The Boston Globe, Matthew Gilbert lauded the series saying, "The show, created and written by Peter Morgan of The Queen and Frost/Nixon is thoroughly engaging, gorgeously shot, beautifully acted, rich in the historical events of postwar England, and designed with a sharp eye to psychological nuance. Vicki Hyman of The Star-Ledger said, "A sumptuous, stately but never dull look inside the life of Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy)." The A.V. Club's Gwen Ihnat said, "The Crown easily rises far above, adding a cinematic quality to a complex and intricate time for an intimate family. The performers and creators are seemingly up for the task."
The Wall Street Journal critic Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "We're clearly meant to see the duke as a wastrel with heart. It doesn’t quite come off—Mr. Jennings is far too convincing as an empty-hearted scoundrel—but it's a minor flaw in this superbly sustained work." Television critic Robert Lloyd writing for Los Angeles Times said, "As television it's excellent—beautifully mounted, movingly played and only mildly melodramatic." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post also reviewed the series positively, "Pieces of The Crown are more brilliant on their own than they are as a series, taken in as shorter, intently focused films like The Queen and another Morgan achievement, the play and film versions of and Frost/Nixon." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "This is a thoughtful series that lingers over death rather than using it for shock value; one that finds its story lines in small power struggles rather than gruesome palace coups.". The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg reviewed the series positively and said, "The first chapter of Peter Morgan's chronicle of the rule of Queen Elizabeth II remains gripping across the entirety of the 10 episodes made available to critics, finding both emotional heft in Elizabeth's youthful ascension and unexpected suspense in matters of courtly protocol and etiquette." Other publications such as USA Today, Indiewire, The Atlantic, CNN, Variety, all reviewed the series positively.
Some were more critical towards the show, in a less enthusiastic review for Time magazine, Daniel D'Addario wrote, "The show will be compared to Downton Abbey, but that late soap opera was able to invent a historical or at least unexpected notes, Foy [Clair] struggles mightily, but she's given little: Avoiding her children, her husband, and her subjects in favor of meetings at which she either acquiesces to her advisors or puts off acquiescing until fifteen minutes later, The Crown's Elizabeth is more than unknowable. She's a bore". Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz quipped, "The Crown never entirely figures out how to make the political and domestic drama genuinely dramatic, much less bestow complexity on characters outside England’s innermost circle." Verne Gay of Newsday said, "Sumptuously produced but glacially told, The Crown is the TV equivalent of a long drive through the English countryside. The scenery keeps changing, but remains the same." Slate magazine's Willa Paskin, expressed "It will scratch your period drama itch—and leave you itchy for action." Writing for The Mail on Sunday, Hugo Vickers, an English royal historian was of the opinion that "while [The Crown] certainly holds the attention, it is marred by a series of sensationalist errors and some quite remarkable lapses into vulgarity."
|2017||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Drama Series||The Crown||Pending|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||John Lithgow||Pending|
|Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series||Jared Harris||Pending|
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