Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Crown: Season 1, Episode 2- Hyde Park Corner

"I thought we'd have longer."

This second episode is a superbly crafted piece of drama, significantly better than the last one, entirely concerned with the slow but inexorable demise of George VI, the race to tell Lilibet and Phil- stuck in Kenya many decades before mobile phones- what has happened, and give us our first glimpse of the changes that must happen now that she is Queen Elizabeth II. Earlier this episode Lilibet curtseyed to her grandmother, Queen Mary; now, Mary curtseys to her.

Oh, and I've just realised why I recognise Pip Torrens, who plays Tommy Lascelles; he was Mr Cholmondely-Warner in Harry Enfield and Sons. It was the scene where he speaks sternly to Townsend about what he's up to with Margaret that made me realise. Blimey.

We also get the first of no doubt many scenes of Phil being vaguely racist as the royal couple touch down in Kenya, we get introduced to Churchill's new secretary Venetia, who will no doubt play an important role later on, and we begin to see both how Churchill is slowly losing it (except for big set-piece speeches, of course) and how frustrating this is, despite royal rebukes, for Anthony Eden, perpetual heir to the premiership and the Prince Charles of the 1950s Tory party.

But the episode centres around the urgent yet calm, uneasy yet rehearsed flurry of activity that follows the King's sudden death one morning; we see as the news slowly circulates and plans spring into action. Amongst all that are small character moments, though, with Phil facing down an elephant and Elizabeth showing her war mechanic skills. And there are hats everywhere. Lots of hats.

But there's no denying that this is a very impressive piece of telly. More please.

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