It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an English actor of sufficient calibre must eventually play a member of the British Royal Family. So it is with the Netflix series The Crown, in which Britain’s acting royalty- momentarily stirred from playing leads in BBC Dickens adaptations and villains in Hollywood blockbusters- all fell on the roles of Britain’s actual royalty, with a television series following the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, beginning in 1947 and continuing, presumably, indefinitely.
So much of the royal family and their political acquaintances have been mythologised in the media of the last half-century, so there is something oddly comforting from having these old familiar faces march in front of your screens. Here is John Lithgow’s cigar-chomping Winston Churchill, dispensing advice while submerged in boiling hot baths, and there goes Alex Jennings’ Duke of Windsor, looking enviously at Elizabeth’s coronation from his exiled Parisian villa. It’s all very welcoming, although it doesn’t hesitate to be serious if necessary.
Which brings us to the trailer for series three, which looks to be heading towards darker territory; it will apparently cover from 1964 to the Silver Jubilee of 1977. That’s a lot of material: the Aberfan Pit Disaster, the Moon Landings, the decolonisation of the British Empire. Britain entered the European Union in 1973- who knows what the angle will be with that, or indeed what the episode will be called. ‘Brenter’, presumably. “The times, they are a-changin’”, as the trailer’s music tells us, and there seems to be a running theme of familial discord and change going forward. The biggest change, of course, is the recasting of the two central characters with Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter, both huge names, and both of whom prior played Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, whether in Hyde Park on the Hudson (2012) or The King’s Speech (2010). As national treasures, the two roughly inhabit the same prestige as the actual Queen, and so, if the times are a-changin’, it’s definitely looks like that’s a good thing.
Last modified: 19th November 2019