Dame Judi Dench is calling for a disclaimer to be added to The Crown to tell viewers the show is not historically accurate.
In a letter to the Times, Dench said the Netflix hit “seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism” the closer the drama comes to the present day.
She goes on to express her concern that “a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true.
“Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalised drama’, the programme-makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode … the time has come for Netflix to reconsider.”
Dench also notes events due to be covered in the upcoming fifth series, some of which have already drawn criticism: “Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series – that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence – this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.”
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, former prime minister Sir John Major said a scene which apparently portrays a plot to oust Elizabeth II was “a barrel-load of malicious nonsense”.
Major’s office released a statement that said: “Sir John has not cooperated in any way with The Crown. Nor has he ever been approached by them to factcheck any script material in this or any other series.
“As you will know, discussions between the monarch and prime minister are entirely private and – for Sir John – will always remain so. But not one of the scenes you depict are accurate in any way whatsoever. They are fiction, pure and simple.”
In response to Major’s comments, a spokesperson for The Crown said: “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.
“Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family – one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”
The Crown returns on Netflix on 9 November.