The Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has called on Netflix to re-emphasise to The Crown viewers that what they’re watching is a work of fiction.
Season four of the global hit drama has drawn criticism for fabricated scenes, ranging from a letter in episode one from Lord Mountbatten warning Prince Charles of his romantic conduct to controversial words put in the mouth of the late Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Mr Dowden told the Mail on Sunday: “It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that… Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
The difficulty with any historical drama is telling the story without having complete verbatim evidence of events and conversations and The Crown creator Peter Morgan has been at pains to explain why he used creative licence to tell the story of the Royal family in the 1980s.
The letter, for example, was a fictional representation of what Lord Mountbatten was advising Charles at that time.
Morgan said: “I think everything what’s in that letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe, based on everything I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to, that represents his view.”
Princess Diana’s brother Charles Spencer is another to criticise The Crown for the way it presents speculation as fact.
He told ITV recently: “Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson. Well, they haven’t. It is very hard, there is a lot of conjecture and a lot of invention, isn’t there? You can hang it on fact, but the bits in between are not fact.”
According to the Mail on Sunday, a friend of Prince Charles said: “It is quite sinister the way that Morgan is clearly using light entertainment to drive a very overt republican agenda and people just don’t see it. They have been lured in over the first few series until they can’t see how they are being manipulated.”
Morgan, meanwhile, has spoken before about how The Crown has changed his republican views and he has become a royalist. He has been vocal about his admiration for the Queen and her achievement in having so many people continue to “believe in” her and the monarchy despite a crisis in belief in society.
Netflix told RadioTimes.com it wasn’t commenting on Mr Dowden’s request.
Seasons 1-4 of The Crown are currently streaming on Netflix.