When Lesley Manville was announced in the role of Princess Margaret in Season 5 of The Crown, I lamented how writer Peter Morgan's choice to end with Season 5 robbed fans of the initially planned two seasons for the last round of the series' cast, including Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth. But there's good news, as it is the prerogative of The Crown to change its mind. Netflix announced today Morgan has reversed course, and the show will go the full six seasons as initially planned.
When Netflix initially announced The Crown was greenlit straight to series in 2014, it was the most audacious project the budding streamer had taken on. The show would cover the current Queen Elizabeth's reign, from her marriage in the 1940s to her current reign at the beginning of the 2010s. Not only was it daring to cover living people in powerful positions, but it would run six seasons and would not age up the actors. Instead, it would recast the entire show — twice! — with actors and actresses changing over every two seasons.
Netflix's gamble paid off, but the difficulties have been obvious. The show lost a year in recasting the first time around. Complicating things further, history kept happening. In 2014, Meghan Markle was a barely-known actress on basic cable, and Jeffrey Epstein was a wealthy New Yorker who few could pick out of a red carpet line-up. By the time Season 3 was streaming, all that changed. As the double barrel of Sussexit and Prince Andrew's scandals grabbed headlines, and fans asked about "The Crown Season 7 and 8," Morgan got gunshy. He insisted he couldn't possibly write about Meghan Markle. Then he announced he was ending with Season 5 and the year 2000, not touching this century at all.
Wise, perhaps, to not introduce Princes Will and Harry as adult characters. But disappointing for both Netflix and fans, who wanted to see this project through. But Netflix has now announced Morgan changed his mind.
News from the palace: we can confirm there will be a sixth (and final) season of @TheCrownNetflix, in addition to the previously announced five!— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 9, 2020
The show will go for six seasons. According to TVLine, Morgan said:
As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons.
But that's the catch. These final two seasons will both cover the 1990s. Instead of skipping about over a decade, as the first three seasons have done, it'll spend more time digging into the public dissolution of Charles and Diana's marriage, giving greater weight to Diana's death that follows.
So just this once, Crown fans, everybody wins. Netflix will have all six planned seasons and not worry about losing face, while Morgan will not have to worry about the 21st century. And fans will get two installments of Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II and Manville as Princess Margaret.
Meanwhile, The Crown Season 4 is still on track to arrive later this year, expected towards the end of 2020.