The Crown's Lesley Manville has defended the drama from criticism over its fictionalisation of events alongside real history and public figures by reaffirming that the series is not a "documentary".


The Mrs Harris Goes to Paris actor - who is taking over from Helena Bonham Carter to play Princess Margaret in season 5 - said the story has to be "multi-layered" and ultimately "dramatically interesting" in order to captivate its audience.

"At the end of the day, you have to make a dramatic choice because we're not making a documentary about the royals. It has to be dramatically interesting," Manville said.

"You have to hold your audience, so your story has to have an arc. It has to have balance. And you can’t just tell one story, it’s got to be multi-layered. You’ve got to cover this multitude of characters, and serve them all."

She continued: "The public is interested in all of them to some degree, some more than others, so you’ve got to spread it out. I'm not sure what he [creator Peter Morgan] left out, but I imagine that the agenda has to be that you’re making a drama, and you have to make that drama interesting, and give it peaks and troughs, and highs and lows, and balance."

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Margaret and Peter dancing at an event
Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret and Timothy Dalton as Peter Townsend in The Crown.

Dame Judi Dench has accused the series of "crude sensationalism" in an open letter in The Times, in which she also voiced her concern that some viewers "may take the show's version of history as being wholly true".

Dench added that an explicit disclaimer stating that it is a work of fiction should be added to each episode as a "mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years".

When contacted for comment by, a Netflix spokesperson said: "The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.

"Season 5 is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family - one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians."

The Crown season 5 will be released on November 9th 2022 and you can watch seasons 1-4 right now on Netflix.

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