The Crown Season 4: I’ve never seen the first three seasons of The Crown as I just never got round to it, but as it enters the fourth season, it moves into a time I remember as a child, where Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) was brought into the fold and was about to marry Prince Charles. Meanwhile, the Tories still had an idiot in charge, this time in the form of Margaret Thatcher, here played by Gillian Anderson.
Initially, as I was new to this, I wish they’d tell us what the date/year is on a regular basis, although at least we do get a hint early on when it’s election day and Margaret Thatcher is tipped to become Prime Minister, so that gives us May 4th 1979 – yes, Star Wars Day. I’m a few episodes in as I post this review, and I can only see a mention of the time coming up once, with ‘1982’.
Charles (Josh O’Connor) is very dismissive of everything, and basically told to marry the winsome Diana, even though he’s playing away with the married Camilla (Emerald Fennell), whilst also seeing Diana’s sister, Sarah (Isobel Eadie), so it certainly shows what money can do. Meanwhile, they later have their first date at the opera, albeit with a chaperone in the form of her grandmother, Lady Fermoy (Georgie Glen). He knows it’s his duty to marry someone like Diana, but what about his true love Camilla? And what about Sarah? He really does put it about for someone who’s such an ugly spud.
Meanwhile, Diana is given rules on how she must behave, making it seem like a lot less of a dream, although at one point during her time at the palace, she watches Bagpuss! I love Bagpuss. I’ll link below a very funny – but rather sweary – reworking of an episode by a guy on Youtube, and he’s made a few more as well.
However, in all seriousness, it’s mad that you have to pass muster with someone’s family first before they decide you’re good enough to marry their son, rather than let him decide. That said, it’s fascinating to see how things played behind the scenes. I knew about it years later because of everything that came out about the Royal Family in the years after they had Diana killed off… I mean, in the tragedy that was an accident with no blame attributed to Queenie & Phil at all. But, when the Royal Wedding happened in 1981, I was 9 years old and didn’t know anything beyond the basics of what I saw on TV. That said, I spent more time on my Atari 2600 than thinking about the Royals in those years.
The other main new entrant in The Crown Season 4 is Gillian Anderson as former Tory tyrant Margaret Thatcher, we’re told who was once rejected from a job as a food research chemist when she was classed as being “headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated“. I wonder why… 😉
Early on, she goes to stay with the Queen at Balmoral and will be subject to ‘tests’, but what sort of tests? It does rather get a bit odd, with a strange marker device at one point, but I’ll leave you to discover that.
I was a bit more in-tune with Thatcher’s movements over the years because of Spitting Image, at the time when it was still funny. Hence, in what I’ve seen for, she realises being PM isn’t all sunshine as rainbows with the work she has on, along with her cabinet stabbing her in the back. To that end, I wish they would name all of Thatcher’s cabinet when they’re onscreen. I can pick up on some of them, but not all of them.
There’s also an amusing moment at Balmoral when, whilst unpacking, she and husband Denis (Stephen Boxer) chat between themselves:
- Thatcher: “I don’t need to look at you, to show you I’m listening to what you’re saying.”
Denis: “Well, it might be nice.”
Thatcher: “I don’t have the time to be nice.”
It also made me laugh when she tells the Queen (Olivia Colman), that she doesn’t have women in her cabinet because they tend to be too emotional and thus not suited to high office!
However, I won’t go into detail about more of these asides, as I’ll leave you to enjoy them.
Having watching it all, even though I haven’t seen season 1 to 3, I still find this very accessible, with topics covered so far including The Royal Wedding, The Falklands and Charles beginning to go green; and when you get to the Michael Fagan episode, if you didn’t know it was true, you wouldn’t believe it!
Unsurprisingly, all eyes (and possibly awards nominations) are on Gillian Anderson, but while it’s also amusing to see Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip (albeit sounding a bit ‘Spitting Image‘) and Helena Bonham Carter being spot-on at calling things as she sees, as Princess Margaret, there’s cast highlights in Josh O’Connor as the dithering Prince Charles, but ‘the crown’ (ahem) really should go to Emma Corrin as Diana. She’s absolutely brilliant. I’d rather she received a main award over Ms Anderson.
The Crown Season 4 is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix now.
Series Score: 8/10
Director: Benjamin Caron
Writer/Creator: Peter Morgan
Queen Elizabeth II: Olivia Colman
Philip, Duke of Edinburgh: Tobias Menzies
Princess Margaret: Helena Bonham Carter
Margaret Thatcher: Gillian Anderson
Prince Charles: Josh O’Connor
Lady Diana Spencer: Emma Corrin
Lord Mountbatten: Charles Dance
Camilla Shand: Emerald Fennell
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother: Marion Bailey
Princess Anne: Erin Doherty
Denis Thatcher: Stephen Boxer
Prince Edward: Angus Imrie
Prince Andrew: Tom Byrne
Mark Thatcher: Freddie Fox
Carol Thatcher: Rebecca Humphries
Martin Charteris: Charles Edwards
Edward Adeane: Richard Goulding
Duchess of Gloucester: Penny Downie
Equerry: Sam Phillips
Sarah Spencer: Isobel Eadie
Virginia Pittman: Letty Thomas
Carolyn Pride: Allegra Marland
Anne Bolton: Flora Higgins
IRA Lieutenant: Michael Colgan
Mark Phillips: Geoffrey Breton
Bernard Ingham: Kevin McNally
Sir Geoffrey Howe: Paul Jesson
Jim Prior: Nicholas Day
Lord Hailsham: Richard Syms
Lord Soames: Peter Pacey
John Nott: Paul Bigley
Willie Whitelaw: Don Gallagher
Francis Pym: Guy Siner
Philip’s private secretary: Patrick Toomey
Butler at Althorp: Callum Coates
Balmoral Master of the Household: Andrew Piper
Balmoral Maid: Laura Cairns
Reporter: Ronald Moger
Newsreader: Alex Harland
Patricia Knatchbull: Harriet Benson
Dowager Lady Brabourne: Valerie Sarruf
Timothy Knatchbull: Brandon Whitt
Nicholas Knatchbull: Evan Whitt
Lord Brabourne: Mark Carlisle
Francis McGirl: Patrick McBrearty
Thomas McMahon: Mark Brennan
Fisherman: Gerard Ban Laverty
Showjumping commentator: Rob Curling
Showjumping judge: David Kerr
Showjumping timekeeper: Richard Sterling
Laurens Van Der Post: Roy Sampson
Kanga: Amy Searles
Newsreader (voiceover): Michael Buerk
Newsreader (voiceover): John Humphrys
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.