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People Are Amused That The UK Government Wants Netflix To Warn Viewers That "The Crown" Is Fictional

"Absolutely seething this morning to discover that The Crown isn’t a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Thanks Netflix."

Posted on November 29, 2020, at 6:05 p.m. ET

The UK's culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, is asking Netflix to warn viewers that The Crown is fictional so that younger audiences may not mistake the events portrayed in the historical drama on the royal family as fact.

"It's a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that," Dowden told the Mail on Sunday. "Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact."

Dowden said he was going to write a letter to Netflix requesting it puts a "health warning" at the beginning of every episode to make it clear that the show was a work of fiction, the Daily Mail reported.

Dowden's move comes amid a wave of criticism from British news media and royal family chroniclers that some of the show's scenes and major plotlines have been invented and are inaccurate and damaging to the royal family.

The most controversial among these is The Crown's portrayal of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's marriage and the suggestion that Charles's affair with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles continued throughout his marriage to Diana.

Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles pose for photographs following the announcement of their engagement on 24th February 1981.

Penny Junor, who has written biographies of Charles and Diana, told the New York Times that the show's problematic depiction of Charles would taint his ascension to the throne.

"It is wonderful television,” Junor said. "It is beautifully acted — the mannerisms are perfect. But it is fiction, and it is very destructive."

Netflix has declined to comment so far, but the Guardian cited a source saying that it had been widely reported that The Crown was a drama based on real-life events.

Some, like ITV News' royal editor Chris Ship, agreed with the culture secretary's concerns.

When you see the excellent work @TheCrownNetflix has put into recreating some of the moments in history on which to base their fictional drama - you can see why many might think it’s fact!!

But many others, including historians, were bemused by the UK government's focus on a Netflix drama and poked fun at the idea that people needed a warning to understand that the show was a fictionalized account of the royal family.

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

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 🙄

Everyone knows The Crown is fiction because everyone spending 90% of the time watching it reading Wikipedia on their phones

@guardian Absolutely seething this morning to discover that The Crown isn’t a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Thanks Netflix.

@guardian 'Warning! This fictional show that you're watching on Netflix is fictional. Also, those fellas in the Marvel films can't actually fly'.

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

If you’re freaking out about the fictional nature of The Crown then I have some *super* bad news about The Ten Commandments

As one historian noted, "historical dramas are not meant to be accurate descriptions of what happened."

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


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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