The Queen to get the Netflix treatment with new royal drama 'The Crown'


Arts Correspondent

Peter Morgan has brought the Queen to the big screen and the West End stage, now the writer is to bring the monarch online, in a £100 million series covering her 60-year reign.

Netflix, the streaming service whose programmes include House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, has commissioned royal drama The Crown, which will cover six decades of the Queen on the throne.

The series is inspired by The Audience, the sell-out stage show that opened in London last year about the Queen Elizabeth II’s weekly audiences with prime ministers from 1952 to the present day.

A source close to the project confirmed that Morgan, who wrote the play, is to team up with its director Stephen Daldry for The Crown, which will be produced by the UK’s Left Field Pictures. The series is set to last more than 20 hours.

The scope of the show will include casting hundreds of statesmen and women the Queen has met during her reign, including Nelson Mandela, and will also have actors playing members of her family including Prince Philip, Charles, Diana and William. 

Andy Harries, Robert Fox and Matthew Byam Shaw, all producers on The Audience, will reunite for the project, carrying out executive producer roles. 

There are expected to be at least three actresses to play the Queen in the new series which is due for broadcast in 2016, and possibly four.

There is no indication as to who is in the running or whether Mirren would be involved. She said that she did not “want to be known as the actress who played the Queen”.

Playwright Peter Morgan, who wrote 'The Audience' Playwright Peter Morgan, who wrote 'The Audience' (Getty Images)
This would be the first time Morgan, the writer behind Frost/Nixon and The Damned United, has worked in the US.

He is returning to familiar subject matter. He wrote The Queen, the 2006 film which won Helen Mirren a string of awards including an Oscar for her portrayal of the monarch. He was nominated for the screenplay.

They paired up again for The Audience, which won Mirren an Olivier award for her performance as the Queen and her weekly meetings with eight prime ministers. Mirren had to range in age from the Queen at 26 talking to Winston Churchill to a great-grandmother meeting David Cameron.

While audiences are set to flock to see Henry VIII in the stage adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, which opened last week, the current Royal Family have proved fertile ground for the stage.

From a stage version of The Kings Speech, which featured a young Elizabeth, and The Audience comes two plays currently running in the West End.

Handbagged, by Moira Buffini, charts the strained relationship between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher.

Also running in London, and set to transfer to the West End, is King Charles III starring Tim Piggot-Smith, which explores Prince Charles when he comes to the throne.

Netflix has invested heavily in its own content. At the TV Baftas, its show Breaking Bad became the first screened online to win the award for best international show.

The Crown would be the first original Netflix programme to be shot in the UK, and the online group beat the BBC and ITV to secure it. The streaming service and Left Bank declined to comment. Morgan and Daldry could not be reached. A spokeswoman at Buckingham Palace also declined to comment.

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