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Netflix Scores With ‘The Crown’, But UK Calls For ‘Historic Fiction’ Label

Fern Siegel

Season four of Netflix’s “The Crown” has a key addition — Princess Diana — and her appearance in the royal saga gave the series its biggest audience yet. It peaked at 83 times more “in demand” than the average U.S. series, according to Parrot Analytics.

The new 10-episode season debuted Nov. 15.

Stack that number against the first three seasons of the show, where we met a young Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and an in-love-but-troubled Princess Margaret, which never registered more than 50 times an in-demand status. In life or death, Diana remains the most popular TV royal.

Parrot called the finding “incredible year-over-year growth.” The researcher measures “demand expressions,” which calculate engagement, desire and viewership.

“The Crown” has already announced season five and six. Emma Corrin plays the young Diana, who captivated the public in the 1980s and 1990s. Elizabeth Debicki will portray her in the next season.

However, there is a caveat to the show, written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures — at least where some biographers and the UK government are concerned.

Author Hugo Vickers, who has written books on the British royal family, says each episode of the show should air with a disclaimer, such as “it is based around some real events.” (Season 4 already has a warning about Princess Diana’s bulimia.) He’s also upset about the depiction of Prince Philip as villainous throughout the series. Matt Smith plays a young Prince Philip; Tobias Menzies plays him as a middle-aged man.

In the Daily Mail on Sunday, Vickers wrote: “I have watched each passing episode of The Crown with mounting horror and have dissected all 40 episodes in books charting the untruths the series contain.”

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested the streamer note “The Crown” is a work of historic fiction. Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Dowden said: “It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.”

A less controversial Netflix win is “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is fictional, and based on the 1983 book by Walter Tevis. In addition to chess, the story also addresses adoption and drug addiction. Bobby Fischer, the American chess grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion, was an actual chess prodigy, though Tevis’ biographer denied in the magazine Chess Life that he had Fischer in mind when he wrote the book.

“Gambit,” which concerns a 9-year-old girl who discovers she’s brilliant — and obsessed — with chess, became Netflix’s most-watched limited series in its first four weeks of release, with 62 million households tuning in.

It also kick-started a renewed interest in chess. Sales of chess sets have increased 87% since “Gambit” launched. Sales of chess books have risen 603%.

“The Crown” season 4 trailer

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