The Crown season four review: The ‘angry Nordie’ stereotype is long past its sell-by date
Series four of The Crown is a tale of two iconic women – neither of whom has the letters “HRH” before their name. Because while Olivia Colman’s wry (and sometimes unsympathetic) Elizabeth II, of course, continues to receive top billing, the season is really all about Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher.
This could have been the point at which Peter Morgan’s reliably middle-brow chronicling of the Queen’s progress through the 20th century went off the rails. Diana and Thatcher are both seismic figures. The obvious worry is that parachuting them into this delicately-wrought drama would capsize the entire endeavour.
But to his credit Morgan incorporates Princess Di and Mrs T seamlessly into his grand chronicling of Elizabeth’s life and times (they may be the stars, yet they are in orbit around her). He is helped by extraordinary performances by Emma Corrin as the bright-eyed young Diana and by Gillian Anderson as a rather wistful Thatcher.
Corrin captures Diana’s naivety and her taste for the spotlight (the first time she is chased by paparazzi, something like a smile flashes across her face). Morgan clearly sees Diana as a victim hoodwinked into tying the knot with a Prince (Josh O’Connor) already in love with the married Camilla Parker-Bowles (Emerald Fennell, bringing shades of panto villainy).
The depiction of her struggles with bulimia are particularly frank and shocking. Still, The Crown is careful not to go far down the road of framing her as utterly hapless. Morgan makes it clear that Diana is an intelligent woman with her own agency (and impressive pair of roller-skates, which she uses to whoosh about Buckingham Palace).
Thatcher is a revelation, too.The part is a showcase for Anderson, who could not be further removed from her X-Files days. An Emmy Award is surely incoming
From Fleabag to Succession, it was hard to disagree with most of the TV awards at this year’s Globes. But all Colman did was sit in a chair looking glum
When it comes to television, the Golden Globes have a long history of getting it wrong. Last year it awarded best comedy to The Kominsky Method, for example. The year before that it went to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Two years before that the HFPA cast its gaze across the comedy landscape and inexplicably decided that nothing was better than Mozart in the Jungle.
With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking something went badly wrong at the Golden Globes last night because, well, its winners were our winners too. Best drama? Succession, which came first in the Guardian’s best TV of 2019 poll. Best comedy? Fleabag, which came second. Best miniseries? Chernobyl, which came third. The acting awards lined up nicely with this, too; Succession’s Brian Cox won best drama actor, Phoebe Waller-Bridge won best comedy actress and Stellan Skarsgård won best supporting actor.
Even when our tastes diverged, it was hard to disagree with the results. Fosse/Verdon was a flawed series, but it nevertheless hinged on Michelle Williams’ totally committed performance, and she was awarded appropriately. Only a handful of people watched Ramy, Ramy Youssef’s autobiographical Hulu comedy, but it was received so well that his win for best comedy actor came as a happy surprise. Even parts of Ricky Gervais’s monologue – the lines about Apple’s sweatshops in particular – were on point. What on Earth is going on?
All this leaves me in something of a dilemma. This is supposed to be the piece where I pull the Golden Globes apart for their poor taste, and revel in all their bad decisions. But I broadly agreed with everything, which puts me in a sticky position. So – and I am truly sorry to do this – it falls to me to take the nuclear option. OK, deep breath.
Olivia Colman should not have won her Golden Globe.
I know. I know. It’s Olivia Colman. She is spectacular in everything, and she’s been spectacular for so long that we’ve come to expect a baseline of excellence from her. Everybody loves Olivia Colman. I love Olivia Colman. Last year was a triumph for her. She was excellent in BBC One’s Les Miserables. She was amazing in Fleabag. The woman won an Oscar last year, for god’s sake.
But I don’t think she deserved to win for The Crown. First, let’s look at who she was up against. She beat Nicole Kidman, who held the second season of Big Little Lies together with her complex portrayal of a woman grieving a man she helped to murder. She beat Jodie Comer, who managed to be even more dazzling and confident in the second season of Killing Eve than she was in the first, which nobody thought possible. She beat Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston for their respective roles in The Morning Show, even though Aniston gave one of the performances of the year.
Meanwhile, Colman sat in a chair. Yes, they were nice chairs. And yes, sometimes they were in different places. And, true, sometimes she did more than sit in a chair. Sometimes she looked out of windows. Sometimes, when something made her furious beyond all comprehension, she very infinitesimally flared her nostrils. But that’s all.
This isn’t a failing of Colman. It’s a failing of The Crown for underusing her, and a failing of Queen Elizabeth II for not being more demonstrative. Had the material been there, Colman would have clearly given a world’s best performance. But it wasn’t, so she spent an entire series of television sitting on her thumb. What a waste of a brilliant performer.
So Olivia Colman shouldn’t have won her Golden Globe, but it’s Olivia Colman so I’m glad she did. Hopefully next year the Golden Globes will go back to being terrible so I have something more substantial to write about.
It was the show that summed up London life best and our lives are poorer without it.
Peep Show had a whole host of iconic characters, from the painfully relatable Mark to the girl everyone wanted to be/be with, Big Suze – plus some very minor but very memorable faces.
It’s been almost four years since the final episode aired, and more than 16 years since since the first hit our screens.
But, given how much time has past, how much thought have you given to the actors who brought us so much joy?
Here’s what all your favourite actors from Peep Show are doing now.
Our favourite posh-girl-next-door was played by Sophie Winkleman – as in Claudia’s half-sister.
Born in Primose Hill, Sophie is now known as Lady Frederick Windsor, following her marriage to Prince Michael of Kent’s son at Hampton Court Palace.
Since Peep Show she has starred in Two and a Half Men as Zoey, and she even sang at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor.
Have you heard of Olivia Coleman? Of course you have – who would have thought a Peep Show actor would end up with an Oscar. When you saw her in Broadchurch you probably went ‘oh, that’s Sophie from Peep Show’ but since then her rise has been stratospheric.
Just some of her credits in hit TV and films are The Night Manager, Fleabag, Les Miserables, Hot Fuzz, The Favourite and most recently The Crown. She’s officially a national treasure [ . . . ]