Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ May be Your New Must-See Period Drama

WPA Pool/Getty Images

WPA Pool/Getty Images

Netflix is officially moving forward with the royal period series The Crown, almost six months after first expressing interest in the project. The company announced that it has handed out a 10-episode series commitment to the Queen Elizabeth II drama, which is quickly shaping up to be one of their most ambitious original shows yet.

The show hails from Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) and will mark Netflix’s first original UK-based production. Inspired by the award-winning play The Audience (which both Morgan and Daldry also worked together on), the decades-spanning series will showcase the inner workings of the Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, and will chronicle the intrigues, love lives and conspiracies across Queen Elizabeth II’s lengthy reign. “The Crown is not only about the royal family but about an empire in decline, a world in disarray and the dawn of a new era,” Morgan described of the show in an official statement.

It’s a lot of historic material for any one show to take on, but what makes the developing series particularly interesting is the format. Each season of The Crown will chronicle a decade of Queen Elizabeth’s rule, delving into the political rivalries and her relationships with the Prime Ministers in each time period and exploring the fragile balance between her private and public life. As described in Netflix’s official announcement, the first season will start out with the monarch as a 25-year-old princess who “faces the daunting prospect of eventually leading the most famous domain in the world while also forging a relationship with the domineering, war-hardened Prime Minister Winston Churchill.”

Netflix clearly has high hopes for the project and is planning on investing big. Per Deadline, the streaming service’s budget for the upcoming series stands at about $100 million — even more than the similarly high price tag allotted their buzzy, new series, Marco Polo, set to premiere next year. Given the storyline, it’s fair to assume fans can expect lush, elaborate costumes and spectacular sets, but there’s also the matter of securing a cast.

Since the series will span several decades, at least three actresses will be needed to play Elizabeth, starting from her younger years onward. According to Deadline, one star is already on her way to landing the coveted role. British actress Claire Foy has reportedly started negotiations to play the younger version of the queen in the upcoming drama, but a deal hasn’t been closed yet. Foy is well-versed in period TV dramas, having starred as the title role in the 2008 Emmy Award-winning British miniseries, Little Dorrit. She also starred in NBC’s short-lived adventure drama, Crossbones.

As for the other actresses who will play older versions of Elizabeth, no other names have been confirmed. It’s unclear if Helen Mirren, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen and reprised the role in Morgan and Daldry’s The Audience, will have any involvement in the series. Either way, Netflix is obviously going big with the show, with the aim to make it TV’s new must-watch period drama and perhaps even an awards season favorite. So far, it’s off to a promising start, mixing elements from other hit shows such as Downton Abbey, Scandal and House of Cards.

The Crown joins Netflix’s other newly announced series Marco Polo and Bloodline, as well as its upcoming movie slate. The show is set to premiere in 2016.

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