Royal hit

The Crown draws binge viewers despite plot fantasies

Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West as Diana and Charles (pic: Netflix)

More than 300,000 individuals are estimated to have binge-watched all 10 episodes of The Crown just four days after its release, despite, or perhaps because of controversy around some of its storylines.

Demonstrating the popularity of the Left Bank Pictures’ royal epic, 100,000 had reached the final episode by 10 November, just 24 hours after it launched on the Netflix channel, according to data published by trade publication Broadcast.

The opening episode on 9 November attracted an overnight audience of 1.1m and remains the most-watched with 2.2m tuning in over the four-day period. As of the weekend there has been an average audience of 930,000 for the 10-part run.

The figures will lift those behind the series who have been criticised for storylines that have not only been untrue, but in some cases deemed insensitive so soon after the Queen’s death, including allegations of an extra-marital affair by the late Duke of Edinburgh. The number of false plots has been described as ‘trolling on a Hollywood scale’. 

Former Prime Minister John Major was furious over a scene in which he was seen to be party to discussions about the Queen abdicating, which he says never happened.

A poll on the subject which is shown as being published by The Sunday Times in August 1991, actually appeared in January 1990. Far from stirring up negative sentiment, it was largely pro-monarchy, says Hugo Vickers, author of The Crown Dissected.

In his analysis, Vickers notes that another notable diversion from reality was the speech given by the Queen at the launch of the Royal Yacht Britannia at John Brown’s shipyard on the Clyde. Intertwined with real footage and the Pathe newsreader’s precise words, actress Claire Foy elaborates on it being symbolic of her own journey as a young monarch, whereas the actual Queen simply named the ship and wished good fortune on all who sailed in her.

Other fictions include an alleged reunion of Princess Margaret and her former lover Group Captain Peter Townsend. In truth they did once attend the same function, but never re-met. The scene of them chatting, dancing and his offering to return her letters that he had kept, was all made up.

One episode with at least a measure of truth sees Mohammed Al-Fayed, the new owner of the late Duke of Windsor’s home near Paris, ordering that its treasures are returned to the Queen.

While he did acquire the ruin and restore it, in fact most of the items that are shown being removed for onward journey to the palace were sold at a Christie’s auction in New York in 1998. The Duke did not keep a diary, let alone one with incriminating evidence of Nazi associations.

And so it goes on… wrongly depicting the Queen as selfishly demanding the Royal Yacht be replaced… Charles yearning for the crown when he was actually none too keen on the idea, only on modernising the institution… the constant playing around with the chronology of key episodes… and the involvement at certain events of individuals who were not present.

On the plus side, the production values have been widely applauded and some of the acting likewise, particularly Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, who is already being tipped for top honours in the awards season.



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