‘Royalty is riveting because it’s like a never-ending soap opera’
Stephen Daldry, director of Netflix series The Crown, at the Mumbai LitLive literature festival.Updated: Nov 19, 2018, 14:42 IST
What makes the Netflix series The Crown so riveting? Why did millions of Indians, and tens of millions around the world, sit through hours of this familiar story, entranced? The answer, says series director Stephen Daldry, is the global perception of royals, particularly the British royal family, as a sort of never-ending soap opera.
Daldry was speaking at the Tata Literature Live festival, in a session titled ‘Easy sits the crown’, in conversation with author and satirist Craig Brown, at the St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education, Bandra.
Brown, author of Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret (2017), added that the royals, whether by default or design, seemed to have achieved just the right mix of mystery and juicy gossip, which made them even more intriguing in an age of reality TV and social media.
The Crown, they both agreed, had none of the fetter of a book — which must strive to be factual. In a drama series, the myth could take shape as well as the reality.
“We did heavy research during scripting and most of our depictions are accurate. However, there is the need for dramatic exaggeration,” Daldry says. “The coronation sequence was very dramatic and we have tried throughout to show the best possible version of the Queen.”
Sometimes, there is a little mercilessness in drama, Daldry added, such as “where a baddie tends to meet a bad end and you tend to sympathise with certain characters, but all that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.”
Asked if there was an element of propaganda to the portrayal of the Queen, an attempt to make her more relatable and human to the global, post-colonial audience, Daldry laughed and replied with a simple, “Yes”. Has the royal family watched The Crown? “Prince William told me he subscribes to Netflix, but I don’t think he should watch it,” Daldry said.