Oscar-winning actor Judi Dench didn’t hold back when criticising Netflix’s The Crown in a recent letter.
No stranger to playing British royalty, Dench won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in Shakespeare and Love and has even played Queen Victoria on two separate occasions - in Mrs. Brown and Victoria and Abdul.
In an open letter published in The Times, Dench lambasted The Crown for its ‘crude sensationalism’ and accused it of portraying an ‘inaccurate and harmful account of history’.
Dench even addressed former prime minister John Major’s recent criticism of the show, saying that Major ‘isn’t alone in his concerns’.
Ahead of the release of the show’s fifth season, Major called one scene in particular a ‘barrel-load of nonsense’.
The ex Tory prime minister was referring to a plot line that is said to depict Prince Charles (played by Dominic West) lobbying a fictional Major (Jonny Lee Miller) to oust the Queen (Imelda Staunton).
In her letter, Dench wrote: “Sir John Major is not alone in his concerns that the latest series of The Crown will present an inaccurate and hurtful account of history.”
She added: "Indeed, the closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism."
Dench also called on Netflix to add a disclaimer at the start of each episode so that viewers are aware they’re not being presented with historical facts.
"While many will recognise The Crown for the brilliant but fictionalised account of events that it is, I fear that a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true," she continued.
"This is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent."
She added: "No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.
“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."
Dench even directly addressed the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last month, saying: "The time has come for Netflix to reconsider — for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years.”
Tyla has approached Netflix for comment.
Following Major’s criticism, a spokeswoman 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."