The Crown (season 1)
|Country of origin|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Original release||4 November 2016|
Claire Foy stars as Elizabeth, along with main cast members Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Eileen Atkins, Jeremy Northam, Victoria Hamilton, Ben Miles, Greg Wise, Jared Harris, John Lithgow, Alex Jennings, and Lia Williams.
The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 through to the present day. The first season, in which Claire Foy portrays the Queen in the early part of her reign, depicts events up to 1955, with Winston Churchill resigning as prime minister and the Queen's sister Princess Margaret deciding not to marry Peter Townsend.
- Claire Foy as Princess Elizabeth and later Queen Elizabeth II
- Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth's husband
- Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Elizabeth's younger sister
- Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother and great-granddaughter of King George III
- Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Churchill's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, who succeeds him as Prime Minister
- Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth, George VI's wife and Elizabeth II's mother, known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother during her daughter's reign
- Ben Miles as Group Captain Peter Townsend, George VI's equerry, who hopes to marry Princess Margaret
- Greg Wise as Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Philip's ambitious uncle and great-grandson of Queen Victoria
- Jared Harris as King George VI, Elizabeth's father, known to his family as Bertie
- John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, the Queen's first Prime Minister
- Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who abdicated in favour of his younger brother Bertie to marry Wallis Simpson; known to his family as David
- Lia Williams as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, Edward's American wife
The below actor is credited in the opening titles of a single episode in which he plays a significant role:
- Billy Jenkins as young Prince Charles, Philip and Elizabeth's son
- Grace and Amelia Gilmour as young Princess Anne, Philip and Elizabeth's daughter (uncredited)
- Clive Francis as Lord Salisbury
- Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles
- Harry Hadden-Paton as Martin Charteris
- Daniel Ings as Mike Parker
- Lizzy McInnerny as Margaret "Bobo" MacDonald
- Patrick Ryecart as the Duke of Norfolk
- Will Keen as Michael Adeane
- James Laurenson as Doctor Weir
- Mark Tandy as Cecil Beaton
- Harriet Walter as Clementine Churchill, Winston Churchill's wife
- Nicholas Rowe as Jock Colville
- Simon Chandler as Clement Attlee
- Kate Phillips as Venetia Scott
- Ronald Pickup as the Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury
- Nigel Cooke as Harry Crookshank
- Patrick Drury as the Lord Chamberlain
- John Woodvine as the Archbishop of York
- Rosalind Knight as Princess Alice of Battenberg, Philip's mother
- Andy Sanderson as Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Elizabeth's uncle
- Michael Culkin as Rab Butler
- George Asprey as Walter Monckton
- Verity Russell as young Princess Elizabeth
- Beau Gadsdon as young Princess Margaret
- James Hillier as Equerry
- Jo Stone-Fewings as Collins
- Anna Madeley as Clarissa Eden, Anthony Eden's wife
- Tony Guilfoyle as the Bishop of Durham
- Nick Hendrix as Billy Wallace
- Josh Taylor as Johnny Dalkeith
- David Shields as Colin Tennant
- Paul Thornley as Bill Mattheson
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Wolferton Splash"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark renounces his titles and citizenship and takes the name Philip Mountbatten before marrying Princess Elizabeth, elder daughter and heir presumptive of King George VI. The newlyweds move to Malta, where Philip rejoins the British Royal Navy while Elizabeth gives birth to son Charles and daughter Anne. Years later, the couple returns to England to be with George as he undergoes a lung operation. George later receives a terminal diagnosis and counsels Philip on how to assist Elizabeth when she becomes the new sovereign. Meanwhile, former Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, return to 10 Downing Street after the 1951 United Kingdom general election.|
|2||2||"Hyde Park Corner"||Stephen Daldry||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|With George still in ill health, Elizabeth and Philip tour of the Commonwealth in his place. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden asks George to convince Churchill to step down after several detractors publicly express concern over his ability to govern. George declines to do so, saying that Churchill will step down when the time comes. George is found dead in his bed by one of the servants. As news spreads across the world, Elizabeth learns of her father's passing while in Kenya. She and Philip return to Britain, and she assumes the role of sovereign.|
|3||3||"Windsor"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|As the Royal Family and the United Kingdom prepare for George's funeral, Elizabeth's uncle Edward, Duke of Windsor returns to London for the first time since his abdication. Philip requests that Elizabeth should ask Churchill to allow their family to keep the name Mountbatten and live at Clarence House rather than at Buckingham Palace. While Churchill is reluctant to grant either request, she eventually drops them after receiving counsel from Edward. She later learns that her coronation has been set for the following year, to help secure Churchill's position within his own party.|
|4||4||"Act of God"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|In December 1952, a great smog forms over London, reducing visibility and killing thousands while hospitalising thousands more. Elizabeth's advisors pressure her to ask Churchill, who refers to the event as an "act of God", to step down. While initially reluctant, Elizabeth summons him for a private audience after he comes under fire for refusing to discuss the smog at Cabinet. Before the audience, Churchill learns that his secretary was killed after being run over by a double-decker bus. He later makes an impassioned speech, promising a longer-term approach to preventing future smog. Both the speech and the smog's sudden disappearance prompt Elizabeth to change her mind at the moment Churchill arrives at Buckingham Palace. Philip receives flying lessons from Royal Air Force Group Captain Peter Townsend, who is engaged in a clandestine relationship with Margaret.|
|5||5||"Smoke and Mirrors"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|While visiting London to spend time with an ailing Queen Mary, Edward clashes with Private Secretary Tommy Lascelles after learning that he and Wallis have not been invited to attend the coronation. Elizabeth, meanwhile, regrets her decision to place Philip in charge of preparations, after he upsets her with a request that he should forgo kneeling to pay homage when she is crowned and annoys the committee by insisting that they televise the event. On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth is crowned at Westminster Abbey while Edward and Wallis view the coverage from their Paris villa and mock her.|
|6||6||"Gelignite"||Julian Jarrold||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|When Margaret and Townsend ask permission to get married, Elizabeth promises her support while Lascelles and the Queen Mother advise against it. A newspaper publishes an article about the relationship and, after learning that the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 prohibits Margaret from marrying without permission until she turns twenty-five, Elizabeth changes her mind. Elizabeth and Philip take Townsend, who is set to be posted to Brussels, with them on a trip to Northern Ireland, but his sudden popularity causes Lascelles to recommend he be posted sooner than promised.|
|7||7||"Scientia Potentia Est"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|In August 1953, after discovering that the Soviet Union has tested their first thermonuclear weapon, Churchill urges an international summit with American President Dwight D. Eisenhower. At the last minute, Churchill suffers a stroke, which inhibits his ability to govern and prompts Lord Salisbury to keep his ailment secret. Meanwhile, Elizabeth contemplates whether to replace the retiring Lascelles with senior deputy Michael Adeane or with her preferred choice of Martin Charteris. Realising that she did not receive a proper education growing up as a princess, she later engages a private tutor to improve her studies, which helps her gain courage to dress down both Churchill and Salisbury after learning about their deception.|
|8||8||"Pride & Joy"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|With Elizabeth and Philip touring the Commonwealth, Margaret takes on more royal engagements while the Queen Mother travels to Scotland to reflect on her new position and ends up buying a castle. Philip grows frustrated over Elizabeth using him as a prop, resulting in a confrontation that is recorded by photographers. While Elizabeth convinces the photographers to surrender the recording, she and Philip remain unable to resolve their argument. Churchill visits Margaret and refuses to let her continue taking on royal engagements, saying that the British people do not want someone with passion or personality.|
|9||9||"Assassins"||Benjamin Caron||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|Philip begins spending more time away from Buckingham Palace while Elizabeth begins spending time with her horse racing manager and longtime friend Lord "Porchey" Porchester. The tension escalates after Elizabeth orders a direct line be put in for Porchey, resulting in another argument. Elizabeth later tells Philip that he is the only man she has ever loved, prompting him to mouth an apology after she makes a speech at Churchill's eightieth birthday dinner. Churchill meets with contemporary artist Graham Sutherland after Parliament commissions him to paint a birthday portrait. Upon receiving the portrait, Churchill confronts Sutherland about its accuracy, eventually admitting his pain at what aging has done to him. Churchill later resigns and requests that Eden replace him as Prime Minister, while Clementine orders that the portrait be destroyed.|
|10||10||"Gloriana"||Philip Martin||Peter Morgan||4 November 2016|
|In 1955, Elizabeth finds herself torn when the country becomes divided over Margaret's relationship with Townsend, with the public approving and officials from Parliament and the Church disapproving. As Elizabeth tries to dissuade Margaret from the relationship, the Queen Mother complains about Philip's domineering attitude towards Charles. At the suggestion of Lascelles and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth asks Philip to open the Summer Olympics in Melbourne so that he can adjust to life in her shadow. A five-month royal tour is later added to the itinerary, with Elizabeth suggesting he be thankful everyone is helping him find a public role. Eden replaces Churchill as Prime Minister and becomes trapped in an escalating dispute with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser over the rights to the Suez Canal.|
The series's first two episodes were released theatrically in the United Kingdom on 1 November 2016. The first season was released on Netflix worldwide in its entirety on 4 November 2016. Season one was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on October 16, 2017 and worldwide on 7 November 2017.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported 88% approval for the first season based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 8.55/10. Its critical consensus reads, "Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject." On Metacritic, the series holds a score of 81 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
The Guardian's TV critic Lucy Mangan praised the series and wrote that "Netflix can rest assured that its £100m gamble has paid off. This first series, about good old British phlegm from first to last, is the service's crowning achievement so far." Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Ben Lawrence said, "The Crown is a PR triumph for the Windsors, a compassionate piece of work that humanises them in a way that has never been seen before. It is a portrait of an extraordinary family, an intelligent comment on the effects of the constitution on their personal lives and a fascinating account of postwar Britain all rolled into one." Writing for The Boston Globe, Matthew Gilbert also praised the series saying it "is thoroughly engaging, gorgeously shot, beautifully acted, rich in the historical events of postwar England, and designed with a sharp eye to psychological nuance". Vicki Hyman of The Star-Ledger described it as "sumptuous, stately but never dull". The A.V. Club's Gwen Ihnat said it adds "a cinematic quality to a complex and intricate time for an intimate family. The performers and creators are seemingly up for the task".
The Wall Street Journal critic Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "We're clearly meant to see the duke [of Windsor] as a wastrel with heart. It doesn't quite come off—Mr. Jennings is far too convincing as an empty-hearted scoundrel—but it's a minor flaw in this superbly sustained work." Robert Lloyd writing for the Los Angeles Times said, "As television it's excellent—beautifully mounted, movingly played and only mildly melodramatic." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post also reviewed the series positively: "Pieces of The Crown are more brilliant on their own than they are as a series, taken in as shorter, intently focused films". Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "This is a thoughtful series that lingers over death rather than using it for shock value; one that finds its story lines in small power struggles rather than gruesome palace coups." The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg said the first season "remains gripping across the entirety of the 10 episodes made available to critics, finding both emotional heft in Elizabeth's youthful ascension and unexpected suspense in matters of courtly protocol and etiquette". Other publications such as USA Today, Indiewire, The Atlantic, CNN and Variety also reviewed the series positively.
Some were more critical of the show. In a review for Time magazine, Daniel D'Addario wrote that it "will be compared to Downton Abbey, but that .. was able to invent ahistorical or at least unexpected notes. Foy struggles mightily, but she's given little...The Crown's Elizabeth is more than unknowable. She's a bore". Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz concluded, "The Crown never entirely figures out how to make the political and domestic drama genuinely dramatic, much less bestow complexity on characters outside England's innermost circle." Verne Gay of Newsday said, "Sumptuously produced but glacially told, The Crown is the TV equivalent of a long drive through the English countryside. The scenery keeps changing, but remains the same." Slate magazine's Willa Paskin, commented: "It will scratch your period drama itch—and leave you itchy for action."
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