Netflix has largely received plaudits for its original programming so far (well, except maybe in the case of Richie Rich), and is now powering forward with even more big productions.
The streaming service is aiming to continue the success of such prestige dramas as House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black with the upcoming series, The Crown. The period drama is a sweeping historical epic covering several decades in British history from the 1900s (told from the perspective of the people who made it). It's now been announced who will be playing the show's iconic figures, with Netflix again having recruited some big names to add to its impressive stable.
The Crown is set for a ten-episode first season that will explore the state of post-war Britain, and how it lead to the United Kingdom as it is today. According to the show, it's mainly down to the work of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, and her relationship with politicians such as Winston Churchill – two of the lead characters on the series who have just been cast.
Variety is reporting that Claire Foy, who played Henry VIII's doomed wife Anne Boleyn in the BBC's Wolf Hall adaptation, will be crowned once more in the role of Her Majesty. Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith will be supporting her as Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh (and hopefully won't say anything too racist). The pair will appear alongside Dexter's John Lithgow as Prime Minister Winston Churchill (the legendary statesman who Smith crossed paths with in his Timelord days, on episodes like "Victory of the Daleks").
The Crown is adapted from Peter Morgan's play The Audience, with Morgan set as both an executive producer and the main screenwriter on the Netflix series. Billy Elliot's Stephen Daldry, Birdsong's Phillip Martin and Julian Jarrold of A Royal Night Out are among those in line to direct episodes of the series.
Morgan has previously worked on the screenplays for true story-based dramas like The Damned United and the British political drama The Deal (both with Michael Sheen), as well as The Queen, which starred Helen Mirren in an Oscar-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II. (Mirren reprised that role in the stage production of The Audience, as it were). Foy has been cast to play a younger incarnation of the monarch, along with Smith as Prince Phillip, towards the start of her reign.
The Crown is a step outside Netflix's comfort zone: the service has yet to produce an original series in the UK, having instead presented series that aired on the likes of the BBC as "Netflix Originals" (that was the case for Ricky Gervais comedy Derek and cop show Happy Valley). It does very much square with the likes of House Of Cards in level of prestige, with the Kevin Spacey political drama being based on a British series to begin with. Expect moderately less psychopathic behaviour with this particular story of power, though, by comparison.
The Crown is expected to debut on Netflix in 2016.