‘The Crown’, Netflix’s sumptuous new drama has been out for several weeks now, and has us all hooked. From the first minute its clear to see the amount of money that has been ploughed into the show, and to great effect. The music, costumes and locations are all of incredible standard, and the acting from both Clare Foy and Matt Smith make the show effortlessly believable.
The beauty of the show is that while it is centred around Elizabeth and Philip, and her duty as Queen, it focuses just as much on her father King George VI (Jared Harris); Churchill (John Lithgow) and her sister Margaret (Vanessa Kirkby). It begins the day before the young couples’ marriage, and deals with her father’s illness and death, Elizabeth’s adjustment to being Queen, Phillip’s struggles with being King consort, and the continuing hostility with her Uncle Edward, Duke of Windsor (Alex Jennings).
Claire Foy shines as Queen Elizabeth, with an impeccable imitation of her famously clipped accent. Despite being someone we all recognise, the Queen is notoriously private, so it’s delicious to be able to snoop into her life (even if it is just all speculative). You get more of an understanding of the incredible pressure facing her as a young woman, with two small children, only just in her twenties, suddenly confined to a life of duty, pomp and circumstance. As someone who can’t even really look after myself, the thought of all that responsibility so young is rather horrifying.
Alongside Foy, Matt Smith does a brilliant job as the handsome, brooding, notoriously un-PC Prince Phillip, standing loyally beside his wife.
However, it is Vanessa Kirkby playing Margaret who really steals the show. She effortlessly captures Margaret’s charm and beauty, and our hearts ache for her when her marriage to lover Peter Townsend is refused. It seems absurd in today’s liberal society that a member of the royal family was not allowed to marry a divorcee, but with the memory of the Duke of Windsor’s abdication and marriage to divorcee (and American) Wallace Simpson (did anyone say Megan Merkhel?) still fresh in their minds, it’s not hugely surprising.
Even so, despite knowing its based on true events, you can’t help but wish that history would magically change as you watch the show, and that Margaret gets her happy ending. It’s almost easy to forget that what you’re watching is a representation of real life events and not just another fictional drama.
The show mixes drama well with humour, capturing with clarity and tastefulness life for the Queen and her family in the fifties, during a time of political change and family upheaval. The supporting cast do an equally amazing job, especially, Lithgow, playing Churchill, who captures the late prime-minister’s determination and stubbornness impeccably and Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother, adjusting to the death of her beloved husband and the loss of two daughters who no longer need her.
The verdict: If you haven’t watched it yet, what have you been doing? Take a break from that coursework, its only 10 episodes long and it’s truly scrumptious watching.
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Media courtesy of Timothy Everest, RadioTimes and The Telegraph.