It’s finally here. After a year of almost courtly intrigue, ‘The Crown’ is set to debut on Netflix on Friday 4 November.
From the pen of Peter Morgan, who previously brought us ‘The Queen’ and ‘The Audience’ and with the first few episodes directed by Stephen Daldry, the mega-budget 10-episode tale follows HM The Queen and Prince Philip in the first fraught years of their married life.
All dedicated royal watchers will be landing on this show, which producer Andrew Eaton tells HuffPostUK he wants to “show the challenges, the unique position they found themselves in, how very young the Queen was when the role of monarch came to her”.
Even if you’re not an attender at St James’ Court, there’s an enormous amount to enjoy here. Namely...
From the stately but slightly drab corridors of Buckingham Palace to the Scottish highlands, via Kenyan safari, no expense has been spared. Ever wondered how the other half live? This is the other 0.00001% (recurring)
Peter Morgan has done it again. Just as he did with ‘The Queen’, ‘Rush’ and ‘Frost/Nixon’, the London-born writer has seamlessly blended the personal with the political, every line a metaphor for something else entirely. You have to work hard to keep up, and it’s worth it.
Claire Foy’s voice
As the young Queen, Claire (who previously wowed us in ‘Wolf Hall’) doesn’t look entirely convincing. Twenty-something Elizabeth was beautiful, but not in the fragile, almost elfin way of Claire. And then she opens her mouth... and we have Her Majesty.
Matt Smith’s smile
When the former ‘Doctor Who’ star was cast, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure he had the chops to pull off the dashing Duke. I was wrong. Matt has somehow added a few years to his look along with the necessary gravitas, light touch and a spray of blonde hair that suits. Plus, the chemistry between the pair reminds us of why Prince Philip of Greece was prepared to give up a flourishing naval career, and why the Princess felt so lucky to have him.
Jared Harris scene stealing as the King
We had the Oscar-winning Colin Firth in the role of King George VI, but the ‘Mad Men’ star rules the screen with his version here, an older, more vulnerable but wily character.
Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles
Once you’ve got over the slightly creepy Riff-Raff quality to the Queen’s private secretary, you’ll spend the rest of the time scratching your head - “Where have I seen...?” The answer is, where haven’t you? Pip is one of our most watchable go-tos for watchful supporting role, not once but twice in ‘Midsomer Murders’, most recently in ‘Poldark’ as George Warleggan’s conspiring uncle.
Princess Margaret’s coy asides to Captain Peter Townsend
With all the serious business of succession going on centre stage, it comes as sweet romantic relief to spy the blossoming, secret thing occurring between the Queen’s younger sister (Vanessa Kirby) and the dashing equerry - much to Pip Torrens’ disapproval (nobody does a glare like that man). Of course, spoiler alert, it goes wrong, but here we see how sweet it was before it soured.
John Lithgow as Winston Churchill
The piece de resistance, almost singlehandedly stealing the whole scene from Buckingham Palace and its inhabitants. With an honourable nod to silver fox Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, it is Lithgow in full fading glory, with his finest hour being when he dictates to one of his secretaries through the door from his full bath, and still somehow manages to splash her and then continues to puff on his cigar. Class.
‘The Crown’ debuts on Netflix on Friday.