season four Olivia Colman continues her gloriously cold performance as Queen
Elizabeth II, covering her reign between 1979 and 1990. Although this middle
generation could never match the post-war fascination that preceded it, the
richness of the recent history brings an uncomfortable proximity to the present
day. And this includes a slightly satirical appearance from Prince Andrew…
Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher with stiff and stern authority. Photo: Netflix
the last thing this country needs … Two women running the shop,’ says Prince
Philip (Tobias Menzies) in that classically antiquated tone. Margaret Thatcher,
played with stiff and stern authority by Gillian Anderson, has been elected and
the weekly Audiences are taken to a whole different level. Thatcher commands a stony, presumptive authority: never budging for anybody, not even the Queen. The
rivalry between them – the class differences, the political divergences – ignite
a passively frosty relationship.
other significant woman entering this season is Lady Diana. It’s a shame this is
Emma Corrin’s first and only contribution to The Crown (to be replaced
by Elizabeth Debicki for season five), as she casts an unforgettable charm. She
vitalises Diana with youth, beauty, and cheek, to the extent that the princess grows
into the most sympathetic figure of the season, tragically torn apart by a
mostly loveless marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor).
introduction is like a visual ballet as she steps into frame – out of focus, costumed
for A Midsummer Night’s Dream – catching Charles’s curiosity. That
fairytale idolatry exacerbates Diana’s eating disorder, depicted in nauseous
Emma Corrin casts an unforgettable charm as Lady Diana. Photo: Netflix
season three, Charles turns into a furiously loathsome figure: continuing his
love affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles (Emerald Fennell) while his wife, the
princess, bears the insipid loneliness of Buckingham Palace. He’s an unloved,
jealous, and adulterous picture of male toxicity, angered by the overwhelming attention
Diana receives compared to his own.
Peter Morgan captures history so beautifully, even if the truth is stretched, his
mind crosses to matters other than the Royals. Fagan covers the Michael Fagan
incident, in which a painter-and-decorator broke into the Queen’s bedroom and
talked with her for ten minutes.
It’s one of the few instances where the series shows life in
working-class Britain, made dreary and grey by the cloud
of Thatcherism. Ben Yeates’ near-poetic comparative editing emphasises the
socio-economic chasm between Elizabeth and Michael.
Helena Bonham Carter vividly continues portraying Princess Margaret. Photo: Netflix
Princess Margaret – continued by a vividly extroverted Helena Bonham Carter – in her obligatory solo episode The Hereditary Principle investigates the
forgotten lives of Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon. The two were related to
the Royal Family but hidden from view, the series suggests, because of their
As the Queen Mother (Marion Bailey) gives eugenic explanations of
hereditary principles and bloodline maintenance, it’s enough to feel sick.
Unfortunately, by necessity, Morgan connects this to Margaret’s own mental
health – awkwardly framing an equivalence between their very different
in spite of these faults, Morgan succeeds in another bingeable if
sensationalised examination of the Royal Family. It’s sad to be saying farewell
to this line of actors, concluding with another family photo (like the end of
season two), but we can’t wait to see what Imelda Staunton and others will
bring to their roles. But considering Covid, this could be a long way off. Be sure
to savour every opulent hour.
The Crown season 4 is available on Netflix from Sunday 15 November
|What||The Crown season 4, Netflix review|
15 Nov 20 – 15 Nov 21, ON NETFLIX
|Website||Click here for more information|