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