'Famously the most Spanish city': The Crown mocked for lacklustre recreation of Australia

Episode six of the new season focuses on Charles and Diana’s 1983 tour of Australia – but none of it was shot there

The blockbuster premiere of the Crown’s fourth season has delighted a world deeply in need of distraction – but one episode is causing mirth among Australian audiences for all the wrong reasons.

The season, which landed on Netflix on 15 November, focuses on the Windsors in the 1980s, featuring Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Princess Diana.

In episode six, Terra Nullius, viewers are treated to Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Diana’s 1983 six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand – but there is a catch: the entire episode was shot, quite glaringly, in Spain.

Oh my god this is meant to be Brisbane in The Crown. pic.twitter.com/WkXbrmOIZk

— Peter Taggart (@petertaggart) November 21, 2020

BRISBANE: Famously the most Spanish city you’ve ever seen in your life.

— Peter Taggart (@petertaggart) November 21, 2020

The south coast city of Malaga doubled as the setting for Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.

One holiday-goer stumbled on the shoot while visiting the town last year. A replication of Albert Street, they wrote on Reddit, included “Queensland Police uniforms, Aussie flags and period correct posters”.

Points awarded for approximating an XD Falcon cop car by using a Ford Granada. Looked passable. pic.twitter.com/Hw7ORGkeY4

— Australia Syndrome (@austsyndrome) November 21, 2020

One viewer correctly identified a balcony scene as being shot from the AC Hotel Malaga Palacio.

It’s Malaga.
The AC Hotel Malaga Palacio. pic.twitter.com/TH9Xtw8DSf

— George Kaplan (@grgkpln) November 22, 2020

Others had hopes for a recreation of the royal couple’s trip to the Big Pineapple, and their infamous ride in a giant nut.

Never knock the Nut Mobile pic.twitter.com/cOjy99KeYu

— Paul Williams (@WilliamOvertell) November 22, 2020

As Netflix admitted earlier this month, much of the episode came down to “a little cinematic magic”, with no scenes actually shot in Australia.

The Opera House was cut and pasted on top of scenes shot in Malaga. Almería, also in Spain, was used as the setting for the Australian desert, with Uluru superimposed.

The episode features some iconic Aussie locations, but not without a little cinematic magic. We'll admit it — the episode was filmed entirely outside of Australia, but it still manages to capture the iconic status of the original tour with reverence. pic.twitter.com/4k2QYIzTXd

— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) November 16, 2020

Speaking to the Nine papers, Richard Roxburgh – who plays Bob Hawke in the new season – said Almería, where spaghetti westerns are often shot, has “a desert kind of light, so it worked in that way”.

On the royal tour of 1983 Charles and Diana climbed Uluru – a sacred Indigenous site which was finally closed to the public in 2019, after decades of protest.

A still from the Crown’s fourth season.
The Crown used green screen to recreate Charles and Diana’s 1983 visit to Uluru, and their now-illegal climb of the sacred site was shot on location in the desert of Almería. Photograph: Netflix

The producers still wanted to show the climb, which Netflix called “a scene … with pivotal importance in royal history” – so followed guidelines provided by Parks Australia in recreating it.

They also used archival footage of traditional owner and Mutitjulu man Reggie Uluru, who appears in the episode. Netflix said a donation was made to a Mutitjulu community charity.

Traditional owner and Mutitjulu man Reggie Uluru also appears in archival footage used in the episode, and has had his appearance approved by Parks Australia. A donation was also made to a Mutitjulu community charity. pic.twitter.com/LZkzNNfXHp

— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) November 16, 2020
Guardian staff

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