A new season of The Crown, as so often is the case, means a new Prime Minister, with Gillian Anderson's Margaret Thatcher being replaced with former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major.


Major held the position of Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997 and, as in previous seasons of The Crown, will be seen during season 5 speaking with Imelda Staunton's Queen during their weekly meetings.

But who plays Major in The Crown, what is his storyline for season 5 and what has the real John Major said about his portrayal?

Read on for everything you need to know about who plays John Major in The Crown season 5.

Who plays John Major in The Crown season 5?

Jonny Lee Miller
Jonny Lee Miller Walter McBride/WireImage

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major is played in The Crown season 5 by Jonny Lee Miller, taking over the role which was previously played briefly in a season 4 background role by actor Marc Ozall.

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Miller is probably best-known for his portrayal of Sick Boy in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting and its sequel T2 Trainspotting, as well as for playing Sherlock Holmes in the contemporary CBS adaptation, Elementary.

Miller has also appeared in films such as Dark Shadows and Mansfield Park, as well as series including Eli Stone and Dexter.

Miller was married to Angelina Jolie from 1996 to 1999, and was also married to Orange is the New Black actress Michele Hicks from 2008 to 2018.

What's John Major's storyline in The Crown season 5?

Jonny Lee Miller as John Major
Jonny Lee Miller as John Major Netflix/YouTube

Major came into office as Prime Minister in November 1990, replacing Margaret Thatcher who had resigned following a challenge to her leadership.

Major was in office for seven years after winning a second term in the 1992 election when the Labour Party was led by Neil Kinnock. The Conservatives lost power in the 1997 election when Tony Blair's Labour won that election in a landslide victory.

During The Crown season 5, Major fears that a divided Royal Family will threaten national stability, and therefore part-way through the season acts as an intermediary in the divorce proceedings between Charles and Diana.

He is also seen negotiating with the then-President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, to locate the remains of the Russian Royal Family, who were killed in 1918, in order to give them a proper burial.

What have The Crown cast said about working with Jonny Lee Miller?

Jonny Lee Miller
Jonny Lee Miller Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

Imelda Staunton, who plays Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown season 5, said that she calls Miller "Jonny Lee Major", and revealed that she "adored working with Jonny".

Staunton continued: "We were both very aware that we had all the grown-up scenes to do. We didn't know each other before and I think we were both quite frightened. We both did our very best; it felt like doing an A level syllabus.

"I think the Queen really grew to like John Major. I was trying to think about the fact that every four years or more you're changing prime ministers and you don't moan about the previous one or read the incoming one."

Meanwhile executive producer on the series Suzanne Mackie noted: "Who would have thought that Sick Boy would one day play John Major? You really couldn’t make that up. And yet he’s brilliant."

Mackie continued: "He’s wonderful. He captures John Major’s gentle, quiet steeliness, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. And there’s a compassion there and a thoughtfulness, yet you can’t underestimate him. I’ve heard so many people describing John Major as a very nice man, but also don’t underestimate how smart he is.

"You can’t be the boy from Brixton and become Prime Minister unless you really are smart, and John Major, of course, was. Jonny’s really caught that still, quietly all-seeing and all-knowing demeanour.

"And, of course, the relationship between John Major and The Queen was a very special one because he was the Prime Minister during her annus horribilis, during her difficult years. His quiet stoicism and compassion were deeply felt by her, and were probably very anchoring for her."

What has the real John Major said about his portrayal in The Crown?

Sir John Major
Sir John Major Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Following reports that a scene in the fifth season of The Crown would feature Prince Charles summoning Major to a meeting during which he schemes to oust the Queen, and that another scene features Major and his wife talking about the Royal Family in disparaging terms, Major himself hit back at the series.

In a statement released on 15th October 2022, a spokesperson for Major said: "Sir John has not cooperated – in any way – with The Crown. Nor has he ever been approached by them to fact-check any script material in this or any other series.

"Discussions between the monarch and prime minister are entirely private and – for Sir John – will always remain so."

The spokesperson said that the reported scenes were "nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction" and "a barrel-load of nonsense peddled for no other reason than to provide maximum – and entirely false – dramatic impact".

The spokesperson added: "There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II – nor was such an improbable and improper subject ever raised by the then Prince of Wales (or Sir John)."

The Crown season 5 will be released on Netflix on 9th November 2022 and you can watch seasons 1-4 right now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.


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