When John Major was prime minister in the 1990s, the actor Jonny Lee Miller was best known for playing the peroxide-haired Sick Boy in Trainspotting and for his tabloid-friendly marriage to Angelina Jolie.
Almost three decades later, the first image has been released of Miller portraying the former Tory prime minister – nicknamed “the grey man” – in the new series of The Crown, complete with side-parting and large glasses.
With Netflix preparing to release the fifth series of its big-budget royal drama, the entire cast of the show has been replaced to reflect the passage of time as the show moves into a more recent era.
The forthcoming series will cover some of the worst years for the British monarchy, including the collapse of the then Prince Charles’s marriage to Princess Diana. The period includes Queen Elizabeth’s “annus horribilis” of 1992 when three of her four children split from their partners and a major fire broke out at Windsor Castle.
Royal courtiers are reportedly nervous about the portrayal of Charles because the series will be released so soon after his accession to the throne, potentially shaping public opinion of the King – and teaching a younger audience about his split from Diana.
Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II, taking on a role previously held by Olivia Colman and Claire Foy. New pictures released by Netflix show the impact of other cast changes, including Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip and Dominic West as Princes Charles.
Princess Margaret will be played by Lesley Manville, Claudia Harrison portrays Princess Anne, and Olivia Williams plays Camilla, the Queen Consort.
The Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki takes the role of Princess Diana – and there is also a role for her partner Dodi Fayed, played by Khalid Abdalla.
All 10 episodes are due to be released on 9 November, a few days after Netflix launches its new, cheaper advertising-supported subscription package. For the first time the company will also release independent viewing figures for the series, after coming to a deal with the UK ratings agency Barb.
The Crown, created and written by Peter Morgan, has been a hit for Netflix since it was first released in 2016, with a sixth series set to take it up to the early 2000s. Filming on the final episodes was briefly paused last month after the death of the Queen.