Friday, 17 March 2017

The Crown: Season 1, Episode 1- Wolverton Splash

"I've signed myself away."

"Or won the greatest prize on Earth."

Yes, I know: yet another TV series on the go and so very many plates spinning. I eventually finish them all, you know me! Everything will be followed to its conclusion at some point. Well, perhaps not Detectorists...

Anyway, let's turn to The Crown, a new-ish (I'm slightly behind the curve, as usual) Netflix drama which has gleaned quite a lot of critical acclaim and stars Claire Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth II from the time when a pubescent Paul McCartney used to perv over her and Matt Smith as everybody's favourite casual racist, Phil. Both are rather good. The script takes an interesting tack, though: the era depicted is staid, with rationing, pre-'60s stultifying puritanism and a truly crap popular culture, but the script plays against this. King George VI in his first scene- which shows just how mollycoddled by servants monarchs are,-drops the C bomb quite casually. That's an interesting choice and drops a hint that this programme may be a little interesting to someone like me who isn't exactly an ardent royalist.

(There. I've said it; not really a royalist. That isn't to say that I want a republic right now- I don't think our age has the appropriate regard for constitutional propriety or civil liberties for such major constitutional surgery and I think we should carry on, ideally with some Scandinavian-style reform, with some kind of constitutional monarchy. But if you were making a new country from scratch then of course you'd have some kind of republic and it's silly to pretend otherwise.)

But perhaps the most interesting piece of casting is John Lithgow (the baddie from Santa Claus: The Movie!!!) as Winston Churchill. He's far from obvious until you see his extraordinary performance which strikes that difficult yet perfect balance between impression and performance. Ben Miles is good too as  royal equerry Peter Townsend, so very proper as he secretly shags Princess Margaret.

Anyway, Phil and Lilibet are getting married. It's all very grand, especially for the austere 1947. She says "obey", which raises eyebrows. The Tories "win" the 1951 election, and Churchill gets to recycle his famous line about Attlee and the empty taxi. But this episode is essentially about the warm relationship between Lilibet and Phil, his difficulty- '50s gender roles being what they are- in adjusting from naval life to the life of a royal "wife", and how the  news of the King's cancer is so slowly kept from him but how, in spite of the denial and the stiff upper lips, it's killing him.

This is actually rather good.

No comments:

Post a Comment