Roger Ebert famously said that cinema is ‘a machine that generates empathy’. The odd corollary of that is Netflix’s The Crown is a machine that generates empathy for the British Royal Family. A project that will supposedly run from Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in the early 1950s up to the present day, this quasi-biopic’s first two seasons took in the 50s before moving on to the early 60s.
But it’s The Crown, not The Queen (which was also created by showrunner Peter Morgan), so it’s not as much a biopic as you might think. This isn’t a languorous year-by-year examination of everything that’s happened to the Queen. Rather, it’s a look at the nature of the monarchy and its evolving constitutional position. While there are character stories that run across the seasons and the series, the episodes are largely episodic, dipping into years almost at random to pull up historical incidents that defined both the country and the monarchy.
For the first two seasons, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were personified by Claire Foy and Matt Smith respectively. Arguably exceedingly flattering choices, the pair of them made you care for the then-young monarchs with ease, portraying them as well-meaning, would-be modernisers, thrust into jobs neither of them wanted, constrained by the nature of their office, but doing their best to bring the country together.
We’re now onto season three and as befits a show that starred a former Time Lord, the Queen and Prince Phillip have regenerated. Olivia Colman (The Favourite) is now Her Majesty, while Tobias Menzies (Outlander) is Prince Phillip as we head into the late 60s and make it as far as the late 70s.
Colman and Menzies gives first-rate performances that verge on the supernaturally accurate – perhaps more so than Foy and Smith’s – so strangely, in season three, we’re less on the side of our former protagonists than we were: they’re not as likeable as they once were, because they’re closer to the real thing, who are no longer young modernisers but have become the establishment.
Perhaps even stranger still, we instead feel sympathy and indeed empathy for two people we never thought we would – the two new protagonists of the piece, Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty). And Camilla Parker-Bowles (née Shand) (Emerald Fennell).
It’s been every two years since 2015 until now, but this year, it seems to have gone annual since the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival is taking place on the Southbank in London between 17 and 19 April. And here are the highlights, according to the press release:
This year’s Festival will see Russell T Davies, Mary Berry and Gillian Anderson inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame, alongside events with comedy legend Ricky Gervais, breakout star of Derry GirlsNicola Coughlan, Sir Lenny Henry in conversation with Alan Yentob, star magician Dynamo, comedian Mo Gilligan, and the team behind The Mash Report including Nish Kumar.
There’s also events celebrating some of the UK’s most popular programmes, including: Last Tango in Halifax,Strictly ComeDancing, Hollyoaks (marking its 25th anniversary), Giri/Haji, Dracula, Grantchester, Killing Eve, Who Do You Think You Are? and World on Fire.
Exclusive previews of some of 2020’s most anticipated new dramas, including: series two of the critically acclaimed comedy-drama After Life created and starring Ricky Gervais who will attend the Festival; the team behind The Inbetweeners turn their hilarious gaze on the world of football in The First Team about the misadventures of three young football players; BBC Two’s adaption ofEleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminarieswith stars Eve Hewson and Himesh Patel; new Sky Atlantic crime drama Gangs of London, from writer Gareth Evans (The Raid) and starring Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole; a sneak peek at the finale of Julian Fellowes’ prestigious new ITV drama Belgravia; and the new adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s hugely popular Alex Riderseries.
The Festival also offers first looks at the much anticipate series three of Killing Eve; the international crime drama The Serpent starring Jenna Coleman; BBC One’s forthcoming adaption of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel Us, starring Tom Hollander, who will appear on stage alongside Nicholls.
The Festival will also reunite Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddiefor The Goodies at 50! with material from the BFI National Archive, as well asa session featuring a bespoke compilation of dazzling footage of the one and only Prince, also drawn from the BFI National Archive. The Festival will remember the legacy of Dave Allen, the doyen of 70s comedy, with a compilation event featuring clips from all the varied parts of his small-screen career.
Every Tuesday, TMINE flags up what new TV events BAFTA is holding around the UK
We’re not quite into December proper for BAFTA events, so there may be more Christmas delights to come. But we are nearly at the end of November. Is BAFTA slowing down? Not a bit of it – at least in the West of England and in Wales.
TV Preview: The Crown (Episode 6) + Q&A
Monday, 25 November 2019 – 6:30pm Galeri, Caernarfon
Join us for a special screening of The Crown (Episode 6) followed by a Q&A with Mark Lewis Jones, Nia Roberts and others.
Wilson and Elizabeth send Charles to learn Welsh at Aberystwyth University for a term in order to mollify mounting Welsh nationalism. Whilst there, Charles struggles to grasp the true meaning of his title under the tutelage of Edward Millward, a prominent Welsh nationalist who hopes to instil the importance of the Welsh language and identity in his royal pupil. After a fractious start, Charles embraces Millward’s instruction and learns that he has more in common with the Welsh than he had imagined.
Without the knowledge of his parents, he alters part of his speech to reflect his own feelings and asks Milward to translate it. Charles’ speech is a great success, but Elizabeth is angry that he broke protocol and embarrassed the family with his pointed words. They part on unfriendly terms and Charles returns to Cambridge, knowing that his family have no interest in him expressing who he truly is.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with actor Mark Lewis Jones (Chernobyl, Keeping Faith, The Accident), actress Nia Roberts and others.
Monday, 16 December 2019 – 7:00pm Bristol Old Vic Theatre, King Street, Bristol, BS1 4ED
Join us for a special Tribute event to celebrate DIY SOS’ outstanding creative contribution to television over the last 20 years. DIY SOS will be honoured with a BAFTA Special Award at this event in Bristol.
The DIY SOS on-screen team presenter Nick Knowles, purple shirts’ tradesmen Mark Millar, Chris Frediani, Julian Perryman, Billy Byrne and interior designer Gabrielle Blackman will be in conversation with presenter and broadcaster Nicki Chapman (The Great Garden Challenge, Escape the to the Country) to share insights from the show’s history. The evening will celebrate DIY SOS’ achievements and commitment to improving people’s lives.
During the event BAFTA will honour DIY SOS with a Special Award in recognition of its outstanding creative contribution to television. Through highlighting important social issues the show has had a significant positive impact on individuals and audiences across the UK throughout its 20 year history. The event will celebrate DIY SOS’ popular appeal among the British television-viewing public and its support of nurturing and developing talent within popular factual and entertainment television industry.
Since the first episode aired on 7 October 1999, BAFTA-nominated DIY SOS has become a popular stalwart of BBC One, with average audience figures of 7.8 million for the recent special episodes. Over the years, more than 200 episodes have aired and more than 20,000 volunteers have given their time, completing over £16 million worth of builds.