BFI TV Festival Part 1: The Crown

by Chara Kitsaki 

Who wants transparency when you can have magic? Who wants prose when you can have poetry? Pull away the veil and what are you left with? An ordinary young woman of modest ability and little imagination. But wrap her up like this, anoint her with oil, and hey, presto, what do you have? A goddess. 

broadcaster: Netflix (all regions)

created and written by: Peter Morgan 

directed by: Stephen Daldry, Philip Martin, Julian Jarrold and Benjamin Caron 

with:

Claire Foy as Princess/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 

Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Jared Harris as King George VI, Elizabeth’s father 

Alex Jennings as Edward, Duke of Windsor, Elizabeth’s uncle 

Ben Miles as Group Captain Peter Townsend 

John Lithgow as Winston Churchill 

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If you are looking for ways to creatively procrastinate and avoid all the responsibilities that tend to haunt us down even during the Easter Break, my suggestion would be watch The Crown. Yes, sometimes you will need a name directory and yes, you will find yourself checking wikipedia for various facts and yes, you will end up knowing things about the royal family that you never really thought you’d learn (the Queen and her husband did tend to fight a lot…). But, no matter what, The Crown is definitely a show worth watching.

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The Crown Season 1

Inspired by the real life and experiences of current Sovereign of Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth II, and her extended family, the Crown starts from her wedding to Philip Mountbatten and follows her life until the resignation of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister. In this first season, we watch Elizabeth, played with incredible poise by Claire Foy marry Philip, become the Queen, handle an overconfident Prime Minister and rebellious Princess Margaret.

In the BFI’s panel, actress Claire Foy, director Philip Martin and executive producer Suzanna Mackie discussed the intricate way in which they tried to navigate such an important topic as the Royal Family. They disclosed that the Royal Family has not commented on their work and joked that the Queen has asked for a Netflix Subscription! Claire Foy seemed jealous of Matt Smith’s racing car scenes while Suzanna Mackie expressed her zeal to continue the show for nine more years to come…! In the question how it feels like to play the Queen and what were the risks of taking up such a demanding role, Claire Foy said that she tried to see her more as a human than a position. The Queen is and will always be an enigmatic figure, said Claire Foy, that’s the magic, that’s the role, she continued. I tried to see her human side, the side that has a husband, children and struggles to keep them all separate from her position as the Head of the Church and State.

Foy, Martin and Mackie all agreed that the difference between Philip and Elizabeth is the way they perceive their roles. While Elizabeth can clearly divide her state as Queen with her role as wife, Philip cannot. In the words of Suzanna Mackie, Philip denies to kneel during Elizabeth’s coronation because he sees her as his wife and not as his Queen. Philip Martin presented the importance of an all encompassing way of directing and the effort put by both cast and crew in creating the lavishing images that we watch. They all revealed the excitement of Season 2 and their surprise towards the popularity the show achieved. Kind, eager to respond and delighted to be amongst fans, Claire Foy, Suzanna Mackie and Philip Martin were a true joy to listen.

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And for all of you who have not seen The Crown yet, DO SO!

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