The latest season of the acclaimed Netflix period drama 'The Crown' has already ruffled many feathers, thanks to its apparently candid depiction of the Princess Diana years. And now, the United Kingdom government plans to ask the OTT platform to run a note informing viewers that the show is fictional in order to ensure viewers can tell truth from fiction.According to a report in The Guardian, UK's Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, plans to write to Netflix and ask them to add a "health warning" to precede the show. The warning will inform viewers that the show is a work of fiction and a documentary.
The report comes amid growing concerns in the UK regarding the portrayal of the royal family in The Crown, especially since the release of its latest season that deals with the turbulent life of Princess Diana.
The Crown tracks the lives of the British royals starting from the time when Queen Elizabeth II of England took over the British monarchy as the nominal head of state. The series is considered by many to be the first of its kind dramatization of the British royals, who are notorious for being extremely tight-lipped about their personal lives.
In the fourth season, many viewers have expressed their discontent at the portrayal of the troubled relationship between Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Not just the UK government, Princess Diana's brother Earl Charles Spencer had raised concerns that while watching the show, audiences may forget that the show is a work of fiction.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Dowden said that 'The Crown' is a "beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that". He added that without the warning, he feared that a
"generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact".
The explanation did not go down well with fans of the show who argued that the fact that the show was categorised as a drama series and not a documentary was enough for viewers to gauge that it was a work of fiction.
Netflix already tell people that The Crown is fiction. It’s billed as a drama. Those people in it are actors. I know! Blows your mind https://t.co/E2WqKUvx5e— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) November 29, 2020
For anyone who has seen Galaxy Quest, this does feel a bit like trying to explain to the Thermians that the things they think are Earth’s “historical documents” are old episodes of a scifi TV show pic.twitter.com/ZufrgQX9EN— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) November 29, 2020
I’ve just watched this incredible documentary about the royal family. I’ve no idea how they gained such unprecedented intimate access to all concerned but it’s amazing. Check it out. @TheCrownNetflix 🙄— Scott Garnham (@ScottGarnham) November 29, 2020
Everyone knows The Crown is fiction because everyone spending 90% of the time watching it reading Wikipedia on their phones— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) November 29, 2020
I just don’t know where to start with Oliver Dowden using his full powers of headed notepaper to demand Netflix proclaim The Crown is fiction, but maybe a trip round the back of the flat screen to check there aren’t little people living there— Janine Gibson (@janinegibson) November 29, 2020
I notice from my timeline that once again I need to wheel out the usual explanation that historical dramas are not meant to be accurate depictions of what happened, and indeed there is no such thing as a wholly accurate historical drama #TheCrown— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) November 17, 2020
In case you were wondering where you could watch the true history of Princess Diana or the British royals, Netflix itself has released several documentaries on the topic. Days after The Crown S4, Netflix released The Story of Diana, a two-part documentary that brings focus to Diana's life through archival footage. It has interviews with historians, experts and people who knew Diana personally. It also has an interaction with Diana's brother Charles Spencer who talks about her time as a royal and the heavy cost of fame.