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Preview: ‘The Crown’ Season Two

Whilst attending the red carpet event for The Crown: Season 2 premiere in London, fans were given the exclusive opportunity to watch the first two episodes of the second season, courtesy of Netflix. Amber Bytheway was lucky enough to be one of the attendees at the Odeon Leicester Square premiere on Tuesday 21st November. So, here’s the lowdown of what to expect in the first two episodes.

Rolling into its second season, The Crown rightly became one of Netflix’s biggest hits of 2016, with audiences treated to an illustrious fictionalised account of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne. Reported as one of the most expensive shows ever produced – with Season 1 costing Netflix an astonishing £100 million to produce – the streaming service must have let out a deep sigh of relief that such a gamble has immensely paid off. Much of this credit goes to the superb writer Peter Morgan, also renowned for his 2006 film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren in the titular role. With the anticipated follow-up season, we are promised even more splendour!

Season two wastes no time and jumps straight back into the middle of a royal marriage on the rocks. Peter Morgan expertly removes the curtain and envisages a detailed construction of this insider-only account of Prince Philip’s alleged infidelities. The tension is so palpable you could almost be forgiven for sensing a full-scale Doctor Foster style meltdown between Elizabeth and Philip. But of course, this is the Queen we’re talking about! One must deal with alleged affairs with cold icy glares and scorning looks. Oh by heavens, one could never accept a divorce – options are limited.

As if it wasn’t enough for poor Elizabeth being thrown onto the throne at the tender age of 25, the strength by her side, Philip, clearly isn’t exactly living up to royal expectations. Once again, it’s the phenomenal Golden Globe winning Claire Foy, who continues to bless audiences with an incredibly profound portrayal of a hidden personality. Foy exposes us to a Queen who is raw and hollow, trying desperately to process the reality of her substantial predicament. On the brink of exasperation, it is often all too heart-breaking to watch Elizabeth mull over the state of their marriage alone. As always with Foy, it’s all in the eyes. Meanwhile, Matt Smith is on par, relishing this strapping story-line as Philip conducts a lengthy, life-changing tour of the Commonwealth on behalf of the Crown.

In contrast to Elizabeth’s marital issues, we also see her blossoming with a more assured stance. The Queen’s interactions with forgotten-in-history Prime Minister, Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam), portrays a woman digging just a little deeper, with an inquisitive and beguiling fascination, into the Suez Canal Crisis that arises. Arguably, the post-WWII historical plot itself may not hold as much interest as that of Season 1. Regardless, we have now moved away from the Churchill era and must re-adapt, so Peter Morgan’s timing with the observation of Elizabeth and Philip’s personal life is a welcome storyline, As is the return of superb scene-stealing Vanessa Kirby who adds a little chaos to the mix with Margaret’s fragility and frustration over being denied the love-of-her-life Peter Townsend.

Some may view Peter Morgan’s focus on the Duke of Edinburgh’s alleged involvement with other women as a huge gamble for a critically-acclaimed biographical drama. Despite preconceptions of a story stripped from a soap opera, the insight into the toils and troubles of this incredible relationship make for outstanding television. In the remarkable hands of Foy and Smith, both Philip and Elizabeth take their fair share of pain for the Crown. As for the introductory episode, it will take your breath away as you see these two like you’ve never seen them before: completely vulnerable.

It will come with great sadness that the original cast of Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby will not be returning for a third series. But let us not lament at the loss of these three outstanding actors. Assuredly, all will be safe with successor Olivia Colman and her soon-to-be-announced co-stars as the ambitious series fast-forwards in time. But for now, early indications suggest that series two of The Crown is going to be a royal feast as we head in the 1960’s. With plenty of promise and lots of ground to cover, get ready to binge!

All episodes of The Crown are released exclusively on Netflix on Friday 8th December.

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