Speaking in a recent interview, Emma Corrin – who plays Princess Diana in season four of The Crown – responded to claims that the Netflix show should include a “fiction” disclaimer, calling them “mad”.
Despite calls for the show to have a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode to remind viewers it is fiction, a spokesperson for Netflix said at the beginning of December that the company had “no plans” to add such a warning because they had “every confidence” that viewers understood the nature of the series.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden was the first to suggest that the show should carry a disclaimer so that viewers would not interpret the show as “fact” – a belief that was subsequently echoed by Diana’s brother Charles Spencer and The Crown cast member Helena Bonham Carter.
“It is a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning that it is just that,” Dowden wrote in The Mail On Sunday in November last year.
“Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
However, as Corrin was keen to highlight in her recent interview, The Crown’s use of fictionalised speech does not differ greatly from other shows based on factual events, which do not usually receive the same criticism.
“The Crown is accurate insofar as it’s about a family over a period of time, and we have factual information about what happened to the country – and to the family. So, you can write down all the facts as if it were a timeline, but all the substance is fictitious,” Corrin explained.
“We can know that Diana and Camilla went to a restaurant called Menage A Trois, which is hysterically ironic, but it happened, but we obviously don’t know what was said, so that is fiction. But that’s how a lot of series operate.”
Corrin added: “It’s mad they want to label it as ‘fiction’ when you have Diana: In Her Own Words [the documentary] where she talks about everything, and it’s much more harrowing.”
Corrin isn’t the only cast member to criticise the culture secretary’s call for a disclaimer – at the end of last year Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles, called the suggestion “outrageous”.
Speaking on the LA Times’ The Envelope podcast, he explained: “We were slightly let down by our culture secretary, whose job it is to encourage culture. In my opinion, it’s pretty outrageous that he came out and said what he said, particularly in this time when he knows that the arts are struggling and they’re on their knees – I think it’s a bit of a low blow.”
O’Connor continued: “My personal view is that audiences understand. You have to show them the respect and understand that they’re intelligent enough to see it for what it is.”
The Crown season four is available to stream on Netflix now.