The fourth season of the beloved and award-winning series The Crown makes a regal arrival on DVD & Blu-ray.
If you missed the boat and haven’t caught up with The Crown, then it’s never too late to start. Presenting itself as an anthology (of sorts), the cast of the series is interchanged every two seasons to represent the passage of time while facilitating the ageing of characters.
Ol’ Liz (pardon me, Her Maj) was played with absolute poise by Claire Foy in the first two seasons, with former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith portraying Prince Phillip. The supporting cast included John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and Jared Harris as King George VI.
Season three and this fourth season have Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman sporting the crown jewels, with Tobias Menzies (Outlander) assuming the cheeky Prince Phillip role and Helena Bonham Carter as the boisterous Princess Margaret. Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country) plays Prince Charles while Lady Diana is portrayed by Emma Corrin, who bares an uncanny resemblance to the late royal. Furthermore, Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) assumes the role of Margaret Thatcher, in what could be described as the performance of her career.
The show has become a global juggernaut and has topped almost every credible ‘must-see’ list for the last several years, and with good reason.
Although it is very much a melodrama, the series’ showrunner Peter Morgan is no stranger to the fictionalised saga of the Royal Family. Having previously written films like The Queen and Frost/Nixon, as well as the celebrated stage show The Audience, Morgan has a knack for adapting the Family’s true story to the limits of public knowledge, and then filling in the gaps of their private lives with the help of informers and pure imagination.
Oh, and on an ironic side note: he also wrote the film Bohemian Rhapsody, about the other Queen.
So, what should you expect from the fourth season? There is a definite sense of urgency this time around, and with so many landmark moments to be depicted, the episodes pivot from one historical event to another. It’s more pacy compared to the previous seasons – perhaps a deliberate choice, as momentum builds toward climactic events.
From Diana and Charles’s tumultuous marriage to the latter’s affair with Camilla, to the prickly relationship between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Queen herself, there are plenty of meaty scenes. The Falklands War is chronicled, the Queen is victim to a home invasion, and dark family secrets are revealed. Suffice to say that series four is a scandalous smorgasbord of drama marked by an ensemble of incredible performances.
Colman and Anderson are the clear standouts. Colman’s Queen, while dignified in her every mannerism, suppresses a weight of personal opinion, giving her character a palpable inner conflict for the viewer to relish. Meanwhile, Anderson’s Thatcher is simply chilling, with her portrayal of the resolute and (arguably) ruthless Iron Lady one to both fear and marvel at.
Peter Morgan has declared that the next two seasons – featuring the next generation of players (including Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce and Dominic West) – will close the book on The Crown, with the storyline carrying us through to the late nineties. He is quoted as saying: “To be clear, series six will not bring us any close to present day – it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”
While there is comfort to be taken from the integrity of his sentiment, surely we’re all keen to see how the modern era of the Royals might be depicted. If the tabloid media have taught us anything, it’s that the hypothetical future seasons of The Crown might give The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Kardashians a run for their money.
The Crown: Season 4 is out on November 10 – pre-order your copy now at JB.