Like most discerning TV viewers around the globe, I’m obsessed with The Crown, the jewel in the, um, crown of Netflix’s 2016 program. Over six seasons of 10 episodes each, The Crown promises to tell "the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century”. Here’s five reasons why we’re loving it.
- It’s expensive – and it shows
Netflix wanted to get this right from the outset - and so they spent an incredible $170m on the series, making it the most expensive TV show ever made. All of the costumes are incredibly extravagant, the royal wedding scenes were filmed in a grand cathedral in Cambridgeshire (about 120 kilometres from London). The Queen’s replica wedding dress cost around $50,000 to make — and all that happens just in the first episode. Attention paid to detail is second-to-none - you will never look at 'Downton Abbey' in the same way.
- The writing and directing is of a royal standard
Netflix have reunited the team behind 2006's Oscar-winning royal biopic The Queen. Writer Peter Morgan and producer Andy Harries worked alongside Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry to bring "the coveted world of power and privilege behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace" to the small screen.
Additionally, The Crown draws from Morgan's 2013 play The Audience – which saw Helen Mirren revive her role from The Queen, with Olivier Award-winning effect – to bring the dramatisation of the Queen's weekly meetings with nine prime ministers during her reign.
- The incredible cast
The Crown has an incredibly strong cast, which includes a suitably hunched and hatted John Lithgow as the ailing yet dominating Winston Churchill. Yet critics are also raving about Jared Harris, who steals the show in the first two episodes as the reluctant King George VI (think the stuttering monarch of The King’s Speech fame).
Claire Foy is also brilliant as Queen Elizabeth - the young woman who finds herself queen at the age of 25. She is seen telling Philip she thought they would have had more time together as a young married couple before destiny came calling, and admonishes her uncle Edward VIII for abdicating the throne, therefore thrusting her childhood into the spotlight when her father became King. Her clipped upper-class accent - her husband is 'Feeleep' - is perfect.
- Even The Queen is a fan
Currently holding the honourable position of being England’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth herself is said to be considering an endorsement of the series that charts her ascension to the throne. At a press conference for the Television Critics Association, showrunner Peter Morgan explained that the Royal family are “very, very aware” of the series.
“I think Netflix are working on getting her to give an endorsement,” Morgan said. “Through untraceable back channels, countless approaches have been made.”
He also revealed he believed the Royals were both “very nervous and very excited” about the show, explaining: “I don’t think they like not having control, but they also understand [a drama] dealing with this subject with respect is a rare thing ... These are people who are not used to being taken seriously.”
- It’s an escape from the world of today
Watching The Crown, viewers can’t help but get swept up in the rich detail that represents a time long forgotten. The royal customs and formalities, the politics, the fashion and the culture all mark a period of history that seem so far removed from the fast and brash modern world we live in today, which is for the most part devoid of tradition and formality. Bring back the wireless and the written letter! Not to mention the respectful media ….