The Crown season five – what the critics say about the ‘sprawling soapy epic’

New season does offer several guilty pleasures, but first three episodes are ‘ditchwater dull’

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown
(Image credit: Netflix)

“Hang on to your orbs and prepare once more for the spectre of the poisoned sceptre,” said Jan Moir in the Daily Mail: “The Crown is back.” Starring a whole new cast, the fifth season of the Netflix hit covers the years 1992 to 1997; and though the show seems determined to depict the Windsors “as the most appalling family in the history of history”, I must admit I loved every minute.

Elizabeth Debicki “burns up every scene” as Diana, nailing not only her voice and mannerisms but also “something of her eldritch blend of strength and fragility”. And she is well-matched by Dominic West, who is a great, and quite “hot”, Charles. Imelda Staunton’s “late life Queen”, meanwhile, is envisaged “as a kind of seaside landlady” who “worries about postmenopausal weight gain”. Admittedly, much of it is not in “the best possible taste”, but fans of this “sprawling soapy epic” are quite used to that.

The new season does offer several guilty pleasures, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph, including the “hilarious” casting of 1990s heartthrob Jonny Lee Miller as John Major. But for the most part, it “suffers from being really quite boring”, and weighed down with clunky metaphors.

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The first three episodes are “ditchwater dull”, agreed Carol Midgley in The Times, but after that the actors settle into their roles and the drama “takes off”. Yes, it is true that “The Crown takes liberties with real people’s lives, but by the end [of this season] it feels more a fond, prolonged stroke than a hatchet job.”

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