Now Imelda Staunton has achieved royal status – she is to play the Queen in The Crown.
The 63-year-old will take over the role of Elizabeth II for seasons five and six of the Netflix drama when Olivia Colman ends her reign.
Imelda Staunton has achieved royal status – she is to play the Queen in The Crown. The 63-year-old will take over the role of Elizabeth II for seasons five and six of the Netflix drama when Olivia Colman ends her reign
Season three aired on Sunday, with all ten episodes made available to download. Miss Colman will step down at the end of season four, to be shown next year
Claire Foy played the young monarch in the first two series.
Miss Staunton was approached by senior producers and casting directors to play the Queen from her mid-60s on.
Next August, she will appear in the West End in the lead role in Hello, Dolly! But in 2021 and 2022 – and possibly even into 2023 – she will be busy filming 20 episodes of The Crown.
The show’s creator Peter Morgan and his team are currently researching the storylines that will occupy the on-screen Royal Household. One likely to be featured is the Queen’s ‘annus horribilis’ – Her Majesty’s description, during a speech at the Guildhall, of the glum goings-on of 1992.
Season three aired on Sunday, with all ten episodes made available to download. Miss Colman (left) will step down at the end of season four, to be shown next year Claire Foy (right) played the young monarch in the first two series.
In that year, the Royal Family was rocked by the separation of Prince Andrew from Sarah, Duchess of York, the fire at Windsor Castle and Princess Anne’s divorce from Captain Mark Phillips.
In addition, Diana: A True Story – Andrew Morton’s warts-and-all biography of the Princess of Wales – was published and a lot of dirty linen surrounding the implosion of Charles and Diana’s marriage, and the Prince of Wales’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, was aired for all to see.
Other episodes are likely to deal with Diana’s death in 1997 and those of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother within weeks of each other in early 2002. There is talk that Nelson Mandela’s visit to London in 1996 could be explored, as well as the Queen’s historic visit to Russia in 1994.
Prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are likely to be portrayed.
It is a terrific coup to cast Miss Staunton, one of our busiest and most popular stars, as Elizabeth II. She has form on the royal beat, having played the Queen Mother, albeit briefly, on TV in the BBC2 drama series Cambridge Spies.
Miss Staunton received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her performance as a back-street abortionist in Mike Leigh’s gritty film Vera Drake, and achieved worldwide fame as the villainous Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series.
She appeared with her husband Jim Carter in the Downton film.
Netflix made it clear before they started filming The Crown, several years ago, that they would hire new actors to take over the major roles once the incumbents completed their 20-episode stint.
They argued that recasting refreshed the show and meant actors would not have to be aged artificially over the Queen’s long reign. However, some viewers have complained that they’ve found the sweeping cast changes – with new actors portraying the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret and other major royal characters – disconcerting and confusing.
Morgan and executives at Netflix have yet to decide how far into the monarch’s life they will delve, and for how long.
There have been delicate conversations about whether to set an end date or whether they should, as one studio executive put it, take The Crown ‘to the grave’. However, Morgan is concerned about having enough ‘distance’ to see, clearly, events that were coloured with passion at the time.