The Eleventh Doctor has been promoted – he’s now a Prince. Matt Smith’s new series, The Crown, debuts this year exclusively on Netflix. Smith puts his regal bearing to good use playing a young Philip Mountbatten, as he courts and then wins the hand of Elizabeth. Smith has combed down his impressive locks and dyed them as well to better represent the blond Prince. There appears to be no royal fez, however.
Smith has been busy in films of late; he recently portrayed the evil face of Skynet in Terminator: Genisys, and will soon appear as Mr. Collins (great casting!) in the mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The first season of The Crown consists of 13 episodes, focusing on Philip and Elizabeth as they meet, marry, and rather suddenly find themselves in Buckingham Palace. The earlier scandal of King Edward and Wallis Simpson is represented, as well as the growing closeness between the Palace and 10 Downing Street.
There is no fixed date yet for the debut of the first season, which is maddening as the trailer is positively sumptuous. The Crown is the most ambitious series to date on Netflix, with expenses estimated at a crown jewel’s price of $156 million. The Crown also marks the first original UK commission for Netflix.
The trailer reveals an early schism in the marriage, as Philip pleads with his wife to simply be his wife, and not also the Queen. In a shocking encounter, she refuses. Smith is bold and furious as he asks,
“Are you my wife or my Queen?”
She answers, just as firmly, “Both.”
Claire Foy, who last appeared as Anne Boleyn in the absolutely magnificent Wolf Hall, here reprises her role as Queen by playing Elizabeth II. Happily, she will keep her head in this series. John Lithgow (who once also played an alien, Dick Solomon on the US hit Third Rock from the Sun) plays Sir Winston Churchill, with a very creditable accent.
Peter Morgan created the series, based on his play The Audience, which starred Helen Mirren. Episodes will be directed by such luminaries as Stephen Daldry (The Hours), Philip Martin (The Forger) and Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane). The show is produced, fittingly, by Andy Harries (The Queen). The first season will focus on the early years in Elizabeth and Philip’s life, and subsequent five seasons (and as many as 60 episodes) will follow them from 1947 to the present.
Netflix describes the series like this: “The Crown tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. Two houses, two courts, one Crown.”