Dame Judi Dench is the latest person to criticize “The Crown” ahead of the show’s season 5 debut on Netflix next month.
The fifth season is set to cover arguably the most tumultuous period in the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II: the messy, contentious divorce of Charles and Diana.
After former British Prime Minister John Major hit out at the show, blasting the storyline as “damaging and malicious fiction” and “a barrel load of nonsense,” Dench followed suit.
The actress, who previously played Queen Victoria in 2017’s “Victoria & Abdul”, and in 1997’s “Mrs Brown”, wrote in a letter to The Times: “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.
“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,” the BBC reported.
Dench continued, “While many will recognize ‘The Crown’ for the brilliant but fictionalized 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.”
Dench insisted that some of the suggestions expected to be made in the upcoming series were “cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent,” especially seeing as the release is so soon after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8.
She went on: “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 ‘fictionalized drama,’ the programme-makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode,” Dench added, referencing a Netflix spokeswoman’s recent statement.
“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, and to preserve its reputation in the eyes of its British subscribers.”
Dominic West will play then-Prince Charles in season 5, while Elizabeth Debicki will take on the role of Princess Diana. Imelda Staunton stars as the Queen.
The fifth season of “The Crown” debuts on Wednesday, Nov. 9.