Julian Fellowes knows a thing or two about mastering the art of the historical period drama having created the award-winning drama series “Downtown Abbey.” So what does Fellowes think of Netflix’s “The Crown”? The series is arguably the most popular British historical drama on television right now, which makes it something of a successor to “Abbey,” but Fellowes has one major issue with the Netflix drama.
“I’m not completely comfortable with dramatizing people who are still alive and still living their lives because I think it’s possible to be unfair,” Fellowes told Katie Couric during an appearance on her podcast (via CNN). “And in the second [season], I didn’t think it was fair to Prince Philip, to the Duke of Edinburgh, based on very little.”
The second season of “The Crown” focused on the strained relationship between Phillip (Matt Smith) and Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). Fellowes said some of the show’s details about the couple’s marriage were exploited from rumors, although he does admit to still being a fan of the program. Fellowes said “The Crown” is “very well done, beautifully acted, [and] beautifully written.” Despite his praise, Fellowes wonders if people who are still alive deserve a dramatization of their lives.
“I think when people are still alive, living their lives, doing a good job and popular and loved, do they deserve it?” Fellowes said. “And in that sense, I’m not sure they do. I think that a lot of it was based on, obviously, very good research, but some of it was not. Some of it was extrapolation from a rumor or someone’s rather prejudiced account. And then it was presented as fact, and I’m not sure that’s just.”
Despite his reservations, Fellowes has nothing but praise for “The Crown” creator Peter Morgan. “I think he’s the best writer on television at the moment,” he said. “And it’s deservedly successful, as far as I’m concerned.”
The first two seasons of “The Crown” are now streaming on Netflix. As for Fellowes, he’s currently working on the NBC historical drama series “The Gilded Age.