The cast of The Crown will hand back their ermine and jewellery at the end of the season four as the hit Netflix royal drama enlists a new cast for season five, part of show runner Peter Morgan’s insistence on accuracy in ageing, but Queen Elizabeth herself, Olivia Colman, hasn’t quite accepted the show was over.
Colman told Netflix Queue: “I have enjoyed this job so much, and I will miss sitting with and laughing with everyone on set so much. But we really are having the time of our lives.”
Imelda Staunton will take over the role of the Queen from Colman in season five and Morgan explained why it was so important to turn over the cast.
“The choice is simple,” he said. “You can put lines on someone’s face or maybe digitally age them, but you can’t breathe the fatigue and bruises of life into a face.
“It’s like a relay race and you pass the baton.”
The cast revealed how intense the attention to detail has been on The Crown. An etiquette advisor was permanently on set and the actors received 100-page etiquette “Bibles” they were expected to study. As well, the drama had a department of five researchers whose job was to monitor the production and ensure royal behaviour was always accurate.
Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, explained how this worked.
“The main part of being a member of the Royal family is being seen,” she said. “If your one job is to get from a car to the door at whatever public event, you must go as slowly as possible. You have to maximise the amount of people who are going to see you. Hence, the Royals move so slowly. That was the first thing we all had to get right.”
Gillian Anderson, who plays Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when season four begins in 1979, said she watched and read everything she could.
Born in the US but raised in London, Anderson she said she worked with movement and voice coaches to perfect Thatcher’s idiosyncratic walk and speech.
She said: “I listened to her voice a lot in private and spoke in that voice out loud when no one could hear.”
Preparation for their roles took its toll on the cast. Tobias Menzies, who plays Prince Philip, explained: “I started by listening and watching him loads, which was kind of fine. And then your eyes and your ears start to bleed a bit.”
Erin Doherty auditioned for the role of Olympic equestrian rider Princess Anne without knowing how to ride a horse.
“I had that classic chat in my first audition where I just said, ‘Yes, I can ride!’” she said.
“I wasn’t going to take myself out of the running,” she laughed. “For the first year I got away with it, and then they said they would give me lessons.”
The Crown season four premieres on Netflix on Sunday 15th November.