The fifth season of The Crown landed on Netflix last week, tackling the breakdown of Charles and Diana's marriage and the aftermath of their divorce.


Such aftermath included Diana's explosive Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, in which she spoke candidly about her relationship with the then Prince of Wales, and declared "there were three" people in their marriage.

It later emerged that Bashir had used fake documents to help secure the controversial interview, but actor Prasanna Puwanarajah didn't "question" the real Bashir's motives" when playing him in the Netflix drama.

"It’s clear from all of these investigations that he was working in terms of this interview in a way that constituted journalistic deceit," Puwanarajah told in an exclusive interview.

"That’s the word that's used. I think the thing about it is that as an actor, it's important to not make inroads into a question around a place on a moral spectrum. And the reason is, it compromises you as a performer if what you're playing is a predetermined space around that."

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama
Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace. Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Puwanarajah added: "All you can ever really do is try and work out what a person is doing in a scene, and you do that in the context of behaviour that you understand to be in play from previous scenes or from research, which probably sounds a bit science-y, and I am a scientist by trade, so that's probably why.

"But for me it's very important, and has always been important to me as an actor, to keep a clear sight of simple objectives in scene by scene order, rather than trying to work out objective things about a person."

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Despite not straying too deep into the morality of how Bashir obtained the interview, Puwanarajah, who also played the journalist in Naomi Watt's 2013 film Diana, did say it would have been "interesting to know his thought processes around that time".

He explained: "The question that you want answered as an actor is why is this person doing things? What are their aims? And those aims might be quite local to that person. I think I would approach it in quite a forensic way. I would just be interested to know what was the thought process from here to here. How did that work?"

In 2021, an inquiry by Lord Dyson found that Bashir had breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to obtain an interview with Princess Diana.

As a result of the inquiry, BBC’s director-general Tim Davie ruled in 2022 that the interview would never be broadcast by the corporation again.

Additional reporting by Abby Robinson.

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The Crown seasons 1 to 5 are available now on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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