The Crown (TV series)
|Created by||Peter Morgan|
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||20 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||54–61 minutes|
|Picture format||4K (Ultra HD)|
|Original release||November 4, 2016– present|
The Crown is a historical drama web television series, created and principally written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. The show is a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, the first season covers the period from her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 to the disintegration of her sister Princess Margaret's engagement to Peter Townsend in 1955. The second season covers the period from the Suez Crisis in 1956 through the retirement of the Queen's third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1963 to the birth of Prince Edward in 1964. The third season will continue from 1964, covering Harold Wilson's two terms as the Prime Minister until 1976, while the fourth will see Margaret Thatcher's premiership and a focus on Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Crown evolved out of Morgan's 2006 film The Queen and 2013 stage play The Audience. The series is intended to last 60 episodes over six seasons, with 10 one-hour episodes per season, covering Elizabeth's life from her younger years to her reign, and with new actors being cast every two seasons. Claire Foy portrays the Queen in the first two seasons, alongside Matt Smith as Prince Philip, and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. For the third and fourth seasons, Olivia Colman will take over as the Queen, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Filming for the series takes place at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with location shooting throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.
The first season was released on Netflix on November 4, 2016, with the second released on December 8, 2017, the series has been renewed for a third and fourth season, and was praised for its direction, writing, cinematography, production values, the relatively accurate historical account of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and particularly for the first season performances of Foy in the leading role and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. It has received several accolades, including winning Best Actress and Best Actor at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards for Foy and Lithgow, respectively, and receiving thirteen nominations for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series.
- 1 Premise
- 2 Cast
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Release
- 6 Reception
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 through to the present day. The first season, in which Claire Foy portrays the Queen in the early part of her reign, depicts events up to 1955, with Winston Churchill resigning as Prime Minister and the Queen's sister Princess Margaret deciding not to marry Peter Townsend. The second season covers the Suez Crisis in 1956, the retirement of the Queen's third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1963 following the Profumo affair political scandal, and the birth of Prince Edward in 1964.
Beginning with season three, Olivia Colman will portray the Queen. Season three will cover Harold Wilson's time as Prime Minister, and will also include Princess Margaret's five-year affair with baronet and gardening expert Roddy Llewellyn that leads to the Princess's divorce from Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1978. It will also introduce Camilla Parker Bowles and Lady Diana Spencer, who will be a focus of the fourth season (set during Margaret Thatcher's premiership).
- Claire Foy as Princess Elizabeth and later Queen Elizabeth II.
- Matt Smith as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and later Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth's husband
- Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Elizabeth's younger sister.
- Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother (season 1)
- Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Churchill's Foreign Secretary, who succeeds him as Prime Minister
- Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth, George VI's wife and Elizabeth's mother, known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother during her daughter's reign
- Ben Miles as Group Captain Peter Townsend, George VI's equerry, who hopes to marry Princess Margaret
- Greg Wise as Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Philip's ambitious uncle and great-grandson of Queen Victoria
- Jared Harris as King George VI, Elizabeth's father, known to his family as Bertie
- John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, the Queen's first Prime Minister
- Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who abdicated in favour of his younger brother Bertie to marry Wallis Simpson; known to his family as David
- Lia Williams as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, Edward's American wife
- Anton Lesser as Harold Macmillan, who follows Anthony Eden as Prime Minister (season 2)
- Matthew Goode as Antony Armstrong-Jones, known as Tony, a society photographer who marries Princess Margaret (season 2)
The below actors are credited in the opening titles of single episodes in which they play a significant role.
- Stephen Dillane as Graham Sutherland, a noted artist who paints a portrait of the ageing Churchill (season 1)
- Gemma Whelan as Patricia Campbell, a secretary who works with Altrincham and types up his editorial (season 2)
- John Heffernan as Lord Altrincham, a writer who penned a scathing criticism of the Queen (season 2)
- Paul Sparks as Billy Graham, a prominent American preacher with whom Elizabeth consults (season 2)
- Michael C. Hall as John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States who visits the Queen (season 2)
- Jodi Balfour as Jacqueline Kennedy, the First Lady of the United States (season 2)
- Burghart Klaussner as Dr. Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun, where Philip and Charles went to school (season 2)
- Finn Elliot as school-aged Prince Philip (season 2)
- Julian Baring as school-aged Prince Charles (season 2)
- Billy Jenkins as young Prince Charles
- Grace and Amelia Gilmour as young Princess Anne (uncredited)
- Clive Francis as Lord Salisbury
- Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles
- Harry Hadden-Paton as Martin Charteris
- Daniel Ings as Mike Parker
- Lizzy McInnerny as Margaret "Bobo" MacDonald
- Michael Bertenshaw as the Master of the Household
- Patrick Ryecart as the Duke of Norfolk
- Will Keen as Michael Adeane
- James Laurenson as Doctor Weir
- Mark Tandy as Cecil Beaton
- Michael Culkin as Rab Butler
- George Asprey as Walter Monckton
- James Hillier as Equerry
- Anna Madeley as Clarissa Eden
- Nick Hendrix (season 1) and Tom Durant-Pritchard (season 2) as Billy Wallace
- Josh Taylor as Johnny Dalkeith
- David Shields (season 1) and Pip Carter (season 2) as Colin Tennant
- Julius D'Silva as Baron Nahum
- Jo Herbert as Mary Charteris
- Richard Clifford as Norman Hartnell
- Joseph Kloska as Porchey
- Amir Boutrous as Gamal Abdel Nasser
- Abigail Parmenter as Judy Montagu
- Harriet Walter as Clementine Churchill
- Nicholas Rowe as Jock Colville
- Simon Chandler as Clement Attlee
- Kate Phillips as Venetia Scott
- Ronald Pickup as the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Nigel Cooke as Harry Crookshank
- Patrick Drury as the Lord Chamberlain
- John Woodvine as the Archbishop of York
- Rosalind Knight as Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark
- Andy Sanderson as Prince Henry
- Verity Russell as young Princess Elizabeth
- Beau Gadsdon as young Princess Margaret
- Jo Stone-Fewings as Collins
- Tony Guilfoyle as the Bishop of Durham
- Paul Thornley as Bill Mattheson
- Chloe Pirrie as Eileen Parker
- Nicholas Burns as Anthony Nutting
- Lucy Russell as Lady Mountbatten
- Richard Elfyn as Selwyn Lloyd
- Adrian Lukis as Vice-Admiral Sir Conolly Abel Smith
- Sophie Leigh Stone as Princess Alice of Battenberg
- Guy Williams as Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
- Leonie Benesch as Princess Cecile of Greece and Denmark
- Simon Paisley Day as Meryn Lewis
- Sylvestra Le Touzel as Dorothy Macmillan
- Catherine Bailey as Elizabeth Cavendish
- Paul Clayton as Bob Boothby
- Yolanda Kettle as Camilla Fry
- Ed Cooper Clarke as Jeremy Fry
- Ryan Sampson as Dudley Moore
- Tim Steed as John Profumo
- Lyla Barrett-Rye as school-aged Princess Anne
- Robert Irons as Freddie Bishop
- Patrick Warner as Peter Cook
- Oliver Maltman as Jim Orr
- David Annen as Alec Douglas-Home
Season 1 (2016)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Wolferton Splash"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In November 1947, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark renounces his royal titles in order to marry Princess Elizabeth, King George VI's elder daughter and heiress presumptive. The newlyweds move to Malta, where Philip returns to the Royal Navy and Elizabeth gives birth to her son Charles and her daughter Anne. In 1951, the couple returns to London when King George undergoes surgery for lung cancer, after being told that he has months to live, the King counsels Philip on how to further assist Elizabeth when she becomes the new sovereign. Meanwhile, former Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine return to Downing Street following six years of a Labour government.|
|2||2||"Hyde Park Corner"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In 1952, with King George still in ill health, Elizabeth and Philip tour the Commonwealth in his place. While the couple is on safari in Kenya, the King is found dead in his bed, his wife Queen Elizabeth, younger daughter Margaret, and widowed mother Queen Mary mourn as news of George's sudden passing spreads via radio to the rest of the world. Philip breaks the news to Elizabeth, who returns to the United Kingdom as Queen and reunites with her family in their grief.|
|3||3||"Windsor"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In February 1952, as the Royal Family prepares for King George's funeral, Elizabeth's uncle the Duke of Windsor, who has been living in Paris with Wallis Simpson since his abdication in 1936, arrives in the United Kingdom. This causes the Queen Mother and Queen Mary to reopen old wounds surrounding his choice of wife. Elizabeth meets Churchill to discuss Philip's requests that his family keep the name Mountbatten, and live at Clarence House rather than move into Buckingham Palace, the Prime Minister is reluctant to grant either request; Elizabeth later drops them after receiving counsel from the Duke of Windsor. Churchill later informs Elizabeth that the date for her coronation has been set for the following year; she understands that Churchill is trying to secure his position within his own party, which is eager for Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to replace him.|
|4||4||"Act of God"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In December 1952, as a great smog affects London and kills thousands, Elizabeth's advisors pressure her to ask Churchill, who referred to the event as an "act of God", to step down. While initially reluctant to do so, the Queen summons him for a private audience after he comes under fire from the opposition and refuses to discuss the smog at a Cabinet meeting, before the meeting, Churchill's eyes are finally opened when his beloved secretary, Venetia Scott, is killed by a double-decker bus. He makes an impassioned speech outside the hospital where Venetia's body is being held, promising a longer-term approach to preventing future smog, his speech prompts Elizabeth to change her mind, when the smog clears moments before their audience takes place. Philip begins flying lessons from Royal Air Force Group Captain Peter Townsend, who is having a clandestine relationship with Margaret.|
|5||5||"Smoke and Mirrors"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|The Duke of Windsor clashes with Elizabeth's Private Secretary Tommy Lascelles after being asked not to attend Elizabeth's coronation and learning that Wallis will also not be receiving an invitation. Elizabeth places Philip in charge of preparations, only to regret her decision when he upsets her with a request that he should forgo kneeling to pay homage when she is crowned, and his insistence that the event be televised, which annoys the committee, on June 2, Elizabeth is crowned at Westminster Abbey. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor view the coverage from their villa in Paris, and spitefully mock the new Queen.|
|6||6||"Gelignite"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|When Margaret and Townsend ask for Elizabeth's permission to marry, the Queen promises her support, while Lascelles and the Queen Mother advise against it. As a local newspaper publishes an article about the relationship, Elizabeth changes her mind after learning that the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 prohibits Margaret from marrying without permission until she turns twenty-five. Elizabeth and Philip take Townsend, who is set to be posted to Brussels, with them on a trip to Northern Ireland, but his popularity causes Lascelles to recommend that he be posted to Brussels sooner than promised, causing a lasting rift between the two sisters.|
|7||7||"Scientia Potentia Est"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In August 1953, Churchill urges an international summit with American President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to the Soviet Union testing their first thermonuclear weapon. At the last minute, Churchill falls victim to a stroke, which inhibits his ability to govern and prompts Conservative Lord Salisbury to try and keep his ailment secret. Meanwhile, Elizabeth contemplates whether to replace the retiring Lascelles with senior deputy Michael Adeane or with her preferred choice Martin Charteris, she later engages a private tutor to improve her knowledge of science, which helps her gain enough courage to dress down Churchill and Salisbury for lying to her.|
|8||8||"Pride & Joy"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|With Elizabeth and Philip on a stressful tour of the Commonwealth, Margaret takes on more royal engagements, and the Queen Mother goes to Scotland to reflect on her new position. While she is there, she buys a castle. Meanwhile, Philip grows frustrated over Elizabeth using him as a prop, and the couple have a heated argument that is recorded by photographers. While Elizabeth convinces the photographers to surrender the recording, she and Phillip remain unable to resolve the argument, but must pretend to have a stable relationship for the public's sake. Churchill visits Margaret and, after explaining that the public do not want someone with passion or personality, tells her that she will no longer be taking on royal engagements.|
|9||9||"Assassins"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|Philip begins spending more time away from home, while Elizabeth begins spending time with her horse racing manager and friend Lord "Porchey" Porchester. The tension escalates after Elizabeth has a direct line put in for Porchey to call Buckingham Palace, and culminates in a heated confrontation. Elizabeth later tells Philip that he is the only man she has ever loved, which has disappointed many others. He, in turn, silently mouths an apology after she makes a moving speech at Churchill's eightieth birthday dinner, as part of the celebrations, contemporary artist Graham Sutherland paints a portrait of Churchill as a birthday gift from Parliament. However, the Prime Minister hates its accuracy and, after a heated confrontation with Sutherland, admits his pain at what aging has done to him, the portrait is later destroyed on Clementine's instructions.|
|10||10||"Gloriana"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||November 4, 2016|
|In 1956, Elizabeth finds herself torn when the public approves, but officials from Parliament and the Church of England disapprove, of Margaret's relationship with Townsend. As Elizabeth tries to dissuade Margaret from the relationship, the Queen Mother complains at Philip's domineering attitude towards Charles, at the suggestion of both Lascelles and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth asks Philip to open the Summer Olympics in Melbourne so he can adjust to life in her shadow. A five-month royal tour onboard the newly commissioned Royal Yacht is later added to Philip's itinerary, to which Elizabeth responds by suggesting that he be thankful everyone is helping him to find a public role. Meanwhile, Eden replaces Churchill as Prime Minister and becomes trapped in an escalating dispute with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser over rights to the Suez Canal.|
Season 2 (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|11||1||"Misadventure"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In February 1957, Elizabeth and Philip discuss the state of their marriage while onboard the Britannia in Lisbon, seeing that divorce is not an option. Five months earlier, Elizabeth had suspected he may be having an affair after finding a photograph of Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova in his briefcase. Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan challenges Eden's solution to the Egyptian takeover of the Suez Canal, but then agrees to military intervention. Philip's uncle Earl Mountbatten overhears and warns Elizabeth, who confronts Eden about the Israeli invasion of Sinai. Eden confesses that there is a secret agreement between the Israeli, French and British governments to reclaim the canal from the Egyptians, without approval from Parliament or the United Nations. British forces begin moving into Egypt, after her nightly prayers she resolutely closes the door to the room with an empty double bed.|
|12||2||"A Company of Men"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In December 1956, Eden withdraws British forces from Egypt following international political pressure, before going on holiday to Jamaica to recover his health. Meanwhile, Philip continues his royal tour, punctuated by an interview which he abandons when the reporter asks about his family history, at Christmas, Philip makes a radio broadcast, prompting Elizabeth to let him know that his family is waiting for him as part of her Christmas Message. Meanwhile, Eileen, the wife of Philip's private secretary Michael, initiates divorce proceedings because her husband has had an affair that started at Philip's lunch club. Elizabeth's assistant private secretary Martin Charteris warns Adeane that this could cause the press to start asking about Elizabeth and Philip's own marriage.|
|13||3||"Lisbon"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Eden returns from Jamaica to find himself forced out of Downing Street by the Cabinet and the Conservative Party, who blame him for the Suez Crisis. As Macmillan becomes Prime Minister, Adeane enlists a retired Lascelles to change Eileen's mind about the divorce. When he fails, and Elizabeth, Philip, and Parker learn about the decision, Elizabeth attempts to convince her to hold off an announcement, but she is rebuffed, the story goes public, prompting Philip to force Parker to resign. Elizabeth arranges Philip's return before meeting the Britannia in Lisbon, where they again discuss their marriage. Philip says that he resents his son outranking him, and needs more respect from the court and palace staff, on February 22, 1957, Philip is made a Prince and becomes "His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".|
|14||4||"Beryl"||Benjamin Caron||Amy Jenkins and Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Shortly before her birthday, Margaret accepts a marriage proposal from her friend Billy Wallace. She breaks off the engagement on finding him drunk and recovering from a duel on the night of the intended announcement, during a gala celebrating Elizabeth and Philip's tenth wedding anniversary. Later, she meets photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at a dinner party and becomes infatuated with him, he invites her to his studio for a sitting. Bored with traditional birthday pictures, she gives one of the photos, which suggests that she is nude, to the newspapers, the following day, the picture is published, shocking Elizabeth and the rest of the Royal Family. Macmillan's wife Dorothy decides to end her longtime affair, but Macmillan overhears her talking to her lover on the telephone.|
|15||5||"Marionettes"||Philippa Lowthorpe||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Lord Altrincham, a minor peer and magazine editor, sparks a constitutional crisis after writing an article criticising Elizabeth. The piece was written after he had listened to a radio broadcast of a particularly tone-deaf speech of hers, written by her aides, to workers at a car factory. While both local newspapers and the general public are initially against him, they support him after he appears on ITN and argues that the monarchy must adapt to post-war and post-Suez society. Macmillan reminds Elizabeth of the trend of nations to abolish their monarchies, prompting her to meet with Altrincham in secret, she later implements two of his suggestions: that the 1957 Royal Christmas Message be televised, and that the Debutante Ball be opened to some of her subjects. Six months later, the Queen Mother expresses embarrassment over the monarchy's slow loss of authority, while hosting a garden party.|
|16||6||"Vergangenheit"||Philippa Lowthorpe||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In 1945 Germany, a German officer leads American soldiers to a box containing top-secret diplomatic papers. After discovering that these contain information about "Windsor", Churchill informs King George and is asked to ensure that the files are never published; in 1958, shortly before meeting American evangelist Billy Graham, Elizabeth receives a letter from the Duke of Windsor asking permission to re-enter the UK to find employment. She agrees, but he starts convincing former sycophants to support his return. When historians unearth the papers, reorganised and titled the Marburg Files, Macmillan brings the matter before Elizabeth, he and the Queen Mother explain that one volume, which the United States wants published, concerns the Duke of Windsor's clandestine relationship with the Nazi High Command. After a confrontation with the Duke does not go as planned, Elizabeth asks Lascelles for advice, only to learn the extent of the relationship, she then seeks spiritual counsel from Reverend Graham, before exiling the Duke of Windsor for betraying his country and allowing the volume to be published.|
|17||7||"Matrimonium"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|After learning that Townsend is engaged to a much younger woman, Margaret retaliates by pressing Armstrong-Jones into proposing marriage. Because Elizabeth is pregnant, protocol prevents her from announcing the engagement. Adeane and Lascelles inform Elizabeth that Armstrong-Jones is currently engaged in sexual relationships with other women, and also with his best male friend and his wife, who is pregnant with what might be Armstrong-Jones's child. Elizabeth gives birth to Prince Andrew, she decides against telling Margaret about Armstrong-Jones's sexual activities. Margaret and Armstrong-Jones are married at Westminster Abbey.|
|18||8||"Dear Mrs. Kennedy"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|Elizabeth invites newly-inaugurated American President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie to Buckingham Palace for dinner. The Queen finds common ground with the First Lady, only to become annoyed on hearing that Jackie had insulted both her and the Palace at a party. Feeling challenged, she travels to Ghana to meet President Kwame Nkrumah, whose relationship with the Soviet Union is worrying Macmillan. Elizabeth convinces him to cut ties with the Soviet Union and to realign Ghana with the United Kingdom, in exchange for agreeing to dance the foxtrot with him. Later, Jackie makes an unexpected visit to the UK and sits down with Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, where she apologises for insulting her, explaining that she had been under the influence of "substances". Elizabeth later confides in Philip, asking him if she should have responded in a more personal way. President Kennedy is assassinated, and Elizabeth arranges for a week of mourning to take place. She also sends Jackie a personal letter of sympathy.|
|19||9||"Paterfamilias"||Stephen Daldry||Tom Edge and Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|On Philip's insistence Charles is sent to Gordonstoun School. Elizabeth and Louis, who are against the idea, recommend Eton College, only for Philip to use his deal with Elizabeth to compel her to back him, as he takes Charles to Scotland, Philip recalls his time at the school, when he was punished for fighting by being forced to construct the school's front gate during the winter holiday, and when his favourite sister Cecile and her family had died in a plane crash, for which his father Andrew blamed him. Charles starts to struggle with Gordonstoun's rigorous curriculum and, when he disappears during the Gordonstoun challenge, is found crying by his security detail. Philip admonishes Charles for being "bloody weak".|
|20||10||"Mystery Man"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||December 8, 2017|
|In 1963, the government is thrown into chaos by an affair between the Secretary of State for War John Profumo and model Christine Keeler becoming public knowledge. When the media begins to speculate about a "mystery man" seen in a photograph taken at a party hosted by London osteopath Stephen Ward, who is charged with immorality offences, Margaret and Tony notice the similarities with Philip. Ward commits suicide, and the police find a hand-drawn portrait of Philip among his belongings. An embarrassed Macmillan resigns, and is succeeded by Alec Douglas-Home, whose appointment is controversial due to his relationship with the Royal Family. Elizabeth asks Philip if he is the mystery man, and confronts him with the photograph of Ulanova. Philip admits to knowing Ward in a minor capacity, having visited his clinic the previous year after injuring his neck, he denies attending Ward's weekend parties, and reaffirms his love and support for Elizabeth. Elizabeth gives birth to her fourth child.|
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, with the series intended to span 60 episodes over six seasons. By October 2017, "early production" had begun on an anticipated third and fourth season, and by the following January, Netflix confirmed the series had been renewed for a third and fourth season.
By November 2014, Claire Foy had entered negotiations to portray Queen Elizabeth II in the series, the following May, Vanessa Kirby was in negotiations to portray Princess Margaret. In June 2015, John Lithgow was cast as Winston Churchill, and Matt Smith was cast as Prince Phillip; Foy was confirmed as Queen Elizabeth II. Also starring in the first season were Victoria Hamilton, Jared Harris, and Eileen Atkins.
The Left Bank producers noted that Smith was paid more than Foy in the first two seasons, partially because of his Doctor Who fame, this information brought up discussion on the gender pay gap, including the creation of a petition asking Smith to donate the difference between his and Foy's salary to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Left Bank later issued an apology to Foy and Smith for putting them "at the center of a media storm... through no fault of their own." Left Bank also clarified that they "are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues." They added that they support "the drive for gender equality in film and TV and [were] eager to talk to the British Time’s Up campaign and [were] already speaking to Era 50:50, a group campaigning for gender equality on screen and stage." Suzanne Mackie, Left Bank's creative director, did note that moving forward, no other actor would be paid more than the actress portraying the Queen. Regarding the controversy, Foy was "not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I'm not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, 'Oh, that's a bit odd.' But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it's odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn't particularly ask for."
The producers will recast some roles with older actors every two seasons, as the timeline moves forward and the characters age; in October 2017, Olivia Colman was cast as Queen Elizabeth II for the third and fourth seasons. By January 2018, Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany were in negotiations to portray Princess Margaret and Prince Philip, respectively, for these seasons. However, by the end of the month Bettany was forced to drop out due to the time commitment required. By the end of March 2018, Tobias Menzies was cast as Prince Phillip for the third and fourth seasons, and Carter was confirmed to have been cast.
An estimated 25% of the first season was filmed at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with the remainder filmed on location, altogether taking 152 days. Sets for private quarters, the interior of a private jet, the cabinet room, and the exterior of 10 Downing Street, were built at Elstree Studios, while Lancaster House, Wrotham Park and Wilton House were used to double as Buckingham Palace. Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey, while locations in South Africa doubled as Kenya. Additional locations in the UK included Eltham Palace, the Royal Naval College, Goldsmiths' Hall, Shoreham Airport, New Slains Castle, Balmoral Castle, Cruden Bay, Lyceum Theatre, Loseley Park, Hatfield House, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Southwark Cathedral, Ardverikie House, Englefield House, and the Glenfeshie Estate. Filming on the second season began in early October 2016, each episode of the first two seasons would shoot for about 22 days, with each costing about GB£5 million (US$7 million) to produce. The third season is expected to begin filming in July 2018.
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The show has been interpreted as perpetuating the idea that the Queen and Prime Minister Churchill had forced Princess Margaret to give up her plan to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend; in the series the Queen is seen telling her sister that if she marries Townsend she would no longer be a member of the family because of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Yet there is clear evidence that in reality efforts had been made to prevent any further delay of the marriage, which 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.
The re-enactment of the removal of the King's cancerous lung, originally performed by Sir Clement Price Thomas, was researched and planned by Pankaj Chandak, specialist in transplant surgery at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London. Chandak and his surgical team also became part of the real scene, the surgical model of King George VI was donated to the Gordon Museum of Pathology for use as a teaching aid.
The series's first two episodes were released theatrically in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2016, the first season was released worldwide in its entirety on November 4, 2016. The second season was released on December 8, 2017.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported 90% approval for the first season based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. Its critical consensus reads, "Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject." On Metacritic, the series 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 wrote that "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 also praised 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". 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 [of Windsor] 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 the 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 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 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 and Variety all reviewed the series positively.
Some were more critical of the show; in a review for Time magazine, Daniel D'Addario wrote that it "will be compared to Downton Abbey, but that .. was able to invent ahistorical or at least unexpected notes. Foy 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 concluded, "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, commented: "It will scratch your period drama itch—and leave you itchy for action." Writing for The Mail on Sunday, Hugo Vickers, an English biographer of the Royal Family, argued that "while [The Crown] certainly holds the attention, it is marred by a series of sensationalist errors and some quite remarkable lapses into vulgarity."
Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating for the second season based on 69 reviews, with an average rating of 8.45 /10. The website's critical consensus read "The Crown continues its reign with a self-assured sophomore season that indulges in high drama and sumptuous costumes." On Metacritic, the second season holds a score of 87 out of 100, based on 27 critics, retaining the first season's indication of "universal acclaim".
Foy and Smith both earned significant praise from critics. Chancellor Agard of Entertainment Weekly wrote "As always, Claire Foy turns in an amazingly restrained performance." Gabriel Tate of The Daily Telegraph wrote "Matt Smith, too, has seldom been better. If the scripts do them justice, we could be in for another memorable series." Hugo Rifkind of The Times said "While ardent monarchists might bristle at the way this is going, for the rest of us it's getting better and better."
Alison Keene of Collider said "Like its first season, each new episode makes its mark and tells its own complete story, all while staying linked to Elizabeth's journey as a monarch, mother, and wife. It's another exceptionally strong season of television, full of compelling drama and sweeping grandeur." Krutika Malikarjuna of TV Guide wrote "Season 2 is centered on why the public-at-large (especially those outside of Britain) still engage with the royals at all: celebrity and star power, the brilliance of this framing becomes clear as the show evolves into The Real Housewives of Buckingham." Sophie Gilbert wrote for The Atlantic "This personal, complex portrayal of a monarch who by her own admission in the show would rather be living any other life is riveting enough, but The Crown is also a history lesson, as my colleague David Sims has put it, albeit a selective one. It's gorgeously shot, with flawless re-creations of everything from the Throne Room in Buckingham Palace to a 1950s hospital ward. And it's surprisingly funny."
The Wall Street Journal critic John Anderson said "The Crown attains genuine sexiness without sex. Margaret, à la Ms. Kirby's interpretation, smolders, as does Elizabeth, at least on occasion." Meghan O'Keefe of Decider wrote "Season Two of The Crown continues to romanticize the British royal family, but the romance comes from how they're normal, not divine."
Less complimentary reviews saw the season criticised for what some regarded as failing to meet the emotional intensity of the first. John Doyle wrote for Globe and Mail "Yes, it is still so lavishly made that it is breathtaking, but The Crown now leans toward a three-hanky weeper about marriage. It is less than it was, like the monarchy itself, and of interest to monarchy fans only." Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx added "Many of the season's wounds are self-inflicted, in particular Morgan's mystifying fascination with Prince Philip, who despite Matt Smith's best efforts still comes across as a whiny man-child." Phil Owen of The Wrap described the season as "trashy" and saw dry comedy in Northam's portrayal of Prime Minister Anthony Eden: "I'm assuming that creator Peter Morgan meant for it to be comedy. There's really no other explanation for why Jeremy Northam played Prime Minister Anthony Eden like he's having a nervous breakdown in every scene."
The Royal family
Adam Helliker from the Daily Express reported in May 2017 that Queen Elizabeth II and her third son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie had watched the first season together. Other royal family members who were fans of the first season included the Queen's granddaughters Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall. While the Queen was reported to have enjoyed the series, she found some depictions of events to be "too heavily dramatised".
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