Lesley Manville Joins 'The Crown' Season 5 As Princess Margaret

(Credit: Courtesy of Dusan Martincek / © Mammoth Screen 2019)

The Crown's decision to end its fictionalized biography of Queen Elizabeth II before the turn of the millennium meant the series would no longer extend to the initially planned Season 6. That also means the third and final casting of the titular Elizabeth, plus Prince Philip and Princess Margaret will only last for one season, instead of the standard two. But that doesn't mean the show is going to skimp on this front. It has a reputation to maintain.

The series turned Claire Foy (Wolf Hall) into a household name, made Matt Smith's career extend beyond Doctor Who, and launched Vanessa Kirby. The current line-up of Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Tobias Menzies (Outlander), and Helena Bonham-Carter (Harry Potter) solidified the series a place for A-listers to spend a couple of seasons on streaming. For its final season, the show is finishing strong. Imelda Staunton (Downton Abbey: The Movie) was already announced as the final iteration of Netflix's version of Queen Elizabeth, promising the series would go in a different direction from the Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) version of the same events in the 1990s, depicted in The Queen.

Staunton takes over the role played first by Foy and now Colman. Now, the production has revealed she will be joined by Lesley Manville. Manville will be playing her sister, Princess Margaret, taking over the part from Bonham-Carter, who took it from Kirby.

Fans got a dose of Manville on PBS recently in the new hit series World on Fire, where she was paired with Sean Bean. But Manville has been in quite a few shows in recent years. She played Lydia Quigley on Harlots for three seasons while also starring as the titular character Cathy in Mum. Doctor Who fans will also remember her from An Adventure in Space and Time. And she's still working on the big screen too, earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 2018 for her role in Phantom Thread opposite Daniel Day-Lewis

In a statement, Manville promised fans she would not let The Crown franchise down for the final season.

I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret. The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don't want to let the side down. Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.

The Crown had the foresight to film Seasons 3 and 4 back to back in 2018-2019, meaning that the next installment is already complete and ready to go despite the current filming shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Netflix's content chief Ted Sarandos recently boasted the company was so ahead due to the way it structures production, there would be no programming gaps in 2020.)

That means fans can be assured The Crown Season 4 is on track to arrive on Netflix sometime towards the end of 2020 (most likely November). As for Season 5, filming was not planned to start until late in 2020 at best, since all the other major roles still need to be recast, from Prince Phillip to Princess Diana. 

The Crown Season 4 is expected to debut before the end of 2020. Seasons 1-3 are streaming now.