Not quite 50 years ago the Queen took part in a documentary called Royal
Family. It has never been repeated – the show had, it was thought, let too much light in on Royal mystique.
Now here comes the first series (of what will be six) of
The Crown (15) ★★★★★,a ten-part drama that takes us through the first years of the Queen’s reign. We start with her marriage to Prince Philip. We end with Eden and Suez.
All very familiar. Yet I defy anyone to take their eyes off it. Writer Peter Morgan and director Stephen Daldry have turned a chronicle of events oft-told into a drama that grips like toffee on a loose tooth.
In doing so, they’ve given back some of the magic Her Majesty worried she’d lost with that documentary. Buckingham Palace hasn’t, apparently, helped one jot. But what a help the show is to the old firm! For what comes out of
The Crown, and especially Claire Foy’s transfixingly limpid central performance (above), is just how little of herself a monarch can give away – and how ceaselessly strong and sacrificial she must be.
So strong that there are times during the show when Lilibet looks like Michael Corleone in The Godfather – isolated by power, but refusing to be dragged down by the loneliness of duty.
And there is much else to enjoy: John Lithgow’s stern, self-regarding Churchill; Matt Smith’s loyal yet doubting Prince Philip; Vanessa Kirby’s seductively sullen Princess Margaret. All so good you find yourself hoping the show never ends.
Not so Baby Driver (15) ★★, a moronic bank-heist actioner that rehashes every car chase you’ve ever seen – then rehashes it again. Steer clear.