Strong words. Judi Dench slammed Netflix’s “completely inaccurate” portrayal of the royal family in the upcoming season of The Crown.
“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” the Oscar winner, 87, wrote in an open letter to The TimesPublished on Thursday, October 20, 2008. “No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”
The Belfast actress asked Netflix to add a disclaimer to each episode clarifying that the show is fictionalized, which she feels is especially necessary in the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth II‘s death. The late monarch died on September 8 at the age of 95.
“Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalized drama,’ the program makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode,” Dench continued in her letter. “The time has come for Netflix to reconsider — for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their own reputation in the eyes of their British subscribers.”
TheNotes on a Scandal star also pointed to several “wounding suggestions” in the upcoming episodes as evidence that a disclaimer is needed, citing a plot line about King Charles IIIHis mother should abdicate. “This is both cruelly unjust to the 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 depiction of the royal family. November 2020 Oliver Dowden, then the U.K.’s culture secretary, called for Netflix to add a disclaimer to the series, calling the show “a beautifully produced work of fiction.”
However, the streaming service refused. “We have always presented The Crown as a drama — and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events,” a spokesperson for the platform said at the time. “As a result we have no plans — and see no need — to add a disclaimer.”
The fifth season of the series will be centered on the early to middle 1990s. Season 4 was completed in 1990 with Margaret Thatcher’s death.Gillian Anderson) as prime minister. The new episodes will feature different cast members playing the lead roles. Imelda Staunton replacing Olivia ColmanAs the queen Dominic West taking over for Josh O’ConnorCharles, 73.
Last year, Prince HarryHe said that he would be happy to play an adult version of himself on the show if it introduced one. Damian Lewis. The Duke of Sussex, 38, also noted that he’s “comfortable” with the series because the show is “obviously fiction” and producers don’t “pretend” it’s a documentary.
“It gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, what can come from that,” the Invictus Games founder explained during a February 2021 appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden. “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife, or myself.”
Season 5 The CrownNetflix releases premieres Wednesday, November 9.