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Netflix’s Crowning Glory: Ruth Connaughton reviews The Crown

To many people – myself included – Queen Elizabeth II is a sweet, elderly lady with fabulous hats and a speech on Christmas Day. It was only when I sat down to watch The Crown that it dawned on me how little I actually knew about the life she has led for the past 90 years.

In hour-long instalments, Netflix has (lavishly) done the story justice. Written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry, The Crown takes you through Queen Elizabeth’s life, commencing back in 1947 on her wedding day to Prince Phillip. Her father, King George VI, is a big part of the first few episodes, and we watch as he battles lung cancer and is informed he only has a few months left to live. Jared Harris’ performance in this role is absolutely captivating, ensuring that the viewer is emotionally invested in this show from the start.

Claire Foy’s portrayal of Elizabeth is equally impressive, to the point where it is impossible to imagine any other actress filling the role as skilfully as her. You also get an interesting insight into the relationship between Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, played by Matt Smith, and the chemistry between the two actors makes it even more engaging.

However, because this is a period drama (and also because of Matt Smith), you cannot help but compare it to similar shows on the BBC or ITV, and wonder if they would have done it differently. For example, while it cost ITV £10 million to make the first season of Victoria, Netflix treated themselves to a slight splurge of £105 million to create The Crown. This begs the question: how can any other channel even attempt to compete with these sort of budgets? Luckily for Netflix their brave move paid off, but this is not a luxury most networks could afford, especially on a brand new show that has no guarantee of being a hit. The investment is really evident through exquisite costumes and set; finishing touches on some already outstanding work.

Image: Jason Train @ Flickr

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