Matt Smith 'nearly died' filming on the set of new drama The Crown

Actor reveals near-death experience when the horse he was riding bolted down a ravine

Matt Smith has revealed he nearly died on the set of The Crown when a horse he was riding bolted during filming in South Africa.

Smith, who plays Prince Philip in the big-budget Netflix drama, said the near-death experience took place during filming for a scene with co-star Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth.

“These horses were being a bit frisky. We were meant to get on them and trot off and have this lovely love scene, which didn’t even make the cut,” he told the Graham Norton Show.

“In my stupidity I got on the horse and cantered around and then it just went. I tried to grab a branch and everyone was shouting, ‘Oh my God, don’t grab the branch!’ So I went under the branch and then down a ravine.

“I was so scared. As it galloped towards a herd of zebra, a huge man grabbed it by the reins and saved my life.”

Foy also revealed that she had to juggle breastfeeding with playing the Queen after accepting the role when she was pregnant. “I was an idiot – such a huge idiot. Every morning I’d be hooked up to the pump and without fail someone would say, ‘Someone’s phone is going.’ I was a lunatic trying to breastfeed and be the Queen. It was an odd thing to do.”

Written by Peter Morgan, who has won awards for other fictionalised accounts featuring the Queen including The Audience, The Crown is expected to come closer than any other drama to breaking British taboos over details of the monarch’s private life.

Among a number of intimate scenes, one in which Prince Philip jokingly asks the Queen for a blow job is likely to raise eyebrows.

At the end of episode seven, after suggesting that the Queen has grown in stature by winning a battle with the prime minister, Philip suggests with a raised eyebrow that his wife could be cut down to size by kneeling before him. The double entendre is obvious even though it relates to an earlier argument between the couple over Prince Philip’s kneeling before her at the coronation.

With the opening episodes launching on Friday already including King George VI reciting a limerick with the word “cunt” and a passionate kiss between the Queen’s sister Margaret and the then married Peter Townsend, The Crown shows the private drama behind the throne.

Morgan has said he would be embarrassed if he ever met the monarch after writing so much about her. “I hope never to meet her,” he told the Radio Times. “I’ve spent so long thinking and writing about the woman it would feel unnatural and uncomfortable.”

However, any scandalised royalists hoping to make an official complaint about Morgan’s depiction of the royal family will be disappointed as US-based Netflix is not subject to Ofcom’s broadcasting rules in the UK.

Netflix is banking on the Queen’s popularity and global fame to help the series become an international hit. The first series cost more than £100m to make, and a full three seasons have already been mapped out.


Jasper Jackson and agencies

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