Strong words. Judi Dench slammed Netflix’s “completely inaccurate” portrayal of the royal family in the upcoming season The Crown.
“The closer the drama gets to our present time, the more freely it seems ready to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” wrote the Oscar winner (87) in an open letter to The Times published on Thursday, October 20. “Nobody believes in artistic freedom more than I do, but that cannot go unchallenged.”
The Belfast The actress has asked Netflix to add a disclaimer to each episode clarifying that the show is fictional, which she feels is especially necessary following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The late monarch died at the age of 96 on September 8.
“Despite the fact that he publicly stated this this week The Crown Always a ‘fictionalized drama,’ the program’s creators have resisted all calls to include a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode,” Dench continued in her letter. “The time has come for Netflix to reconsider – for the family and nation so recently bereaved, as a sign of respect for a sovereign who has served his people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their reputation in the eyes of their British subscribers.”
The Notes on a scandal The star also pointed to several “hurtful suggestions” in upcoming episodes as evidence that a disclaimer is needed, citing the plot of King Charles III wanting his mother to abdicate. “This is both cruelly unfair to individuals and damaging to the institution they represent,” she wrote.
Dench’s letter isn’t the first time the Emmy-winning drama has come under fire for its portrayal of the royal family. In November 2020 Oliver Dowdenthe British culture secretary at the time, called on Netflix to add a disclaimer to the series, calling the series “a beautifully produced work of fiction”.
The streaming service, however, refused to include one. “We have always represented The Crown as a drama — and we have full confidence that our members understand that it is a work of fiction that is heavily based on historical events,” a platform spokesperson said at the time. “As a result, we have no plans — and see no need — to add a disclaimer.”
The upcoming fifth season is expected to focus on the early to mid-1990s, as the fourth season ended in 1990 with the departure of Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) as Prime Minister. The new episodes will also feature various cast members in lead roles, with Imelda Staunton substitution Olivia Colman as a queen and Dominic West download for Josh O’Connor like Charles, 73.
Last year, Prince Harry revealed that if the show introduces a grown-up version of him, he wants to play him Damian Lewis. The Duke of Sussex, 38, also noted that he is “comfortable” with the series because the show is “obviously fictional” and the producers don’t “pretend” it’s a documentary.
“It gives you a rough idea of what that lifestyle is like, the pressures of putting duty and service ahead of family and everything else, what can come out of that,” the Invictus Games founder explained during an appearance in February 2021. The Late Late Show with James Corden. “It’s much more comfortable for me The Crown rather, I look at stories written about my family, or my wife, or myself.”
Season 5 of The Crown premiering on Netflix on Wednesday, November 9.