The Crown

The CrownCredit:     

Series return ★★★½

Sunday 17 November, Netflix

It takes a while to get used to all our favourites being played by different actors – especially such well-known faces – but Peter Morgan and his team acknowledge the switch in a fun opening scene, and we gradually grow accustomed to the new versions. Tobias Menzies nails Prince Philip’s manner of speech, and if it takes a little longer to believe Olivia Coleman is Her Maj we do get there. (Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret is more problematic.) The standout, though, is Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson, not so much for his physicality (it’s easy to “look like” when we have no clear idea what someone actually looked like) as for his understated but compelling performance. The working class hero’s complex nature and developing relationship with the Palace makes for captivating viewing. As it has been in previous seasons, The Crown is essentially a series of loosely connected vignettes and – as with previous seasons – some episodes are stronger than others. But this is a series that steadily gathers power, not least by reminding us that the people we’re observing are clearly different from us (that’s part of the fun) but also fundamentally the same: flawed human beings. Melinda Houston

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