‘The golden age of TV continues. Not that there isn’t mountains of dross out there. Of course there is. But amongst the dross there seems to be a slow but steady stream of gems. The latest, in my ever so umble opinion, has to be The Crown. Not since the BBC’s I Claudius in the mid 1970’s has a TV series set out with so much ambition. The BBC’s Our Friends From The North and This Life certainly had ambition as did HBO’s The Wire and The Sopranos. Black Mirror is absolutely sublime as are the three series of In Treatment. The House of Cards and Homeland are both likely to be on many people’s best of the best list.
There have been plenty of other minor masterpieces to salivate over, not least being Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, A very British Coup and the more recent, Wolf Hall. In fact, if you put your mind to it, it is easy enough to conjure up a list of twenty or more TV masterpieces without watering down the quality in the slightest. And when it comes to quality, The Crown is right up there with the very best in terms of script, direction and acting. But it is the delicate balancing act between a devastating critique of the monarchy and a sympathetic portrayal of the Windsor’s, which gives this particular production its special quality. After only two series out of a proposed six, the jury is still out as to which of the two portrayals will predominate but based on what we have seen so far, I wouldn’t bet against a finely balanced draw. Given that I detest everything that monarchy stands for, and given that I have a particular loathing for the entire Windsor household and all their parasitic hangers-on, I find it quite remarkable that I find myself having a tiny smidgen of sympathy for the current incumbent of Britain’s hereditary crown.
Series Two was notable for exploring three political bombshells; the Suez Crisis, Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 and the well documented Profumo Affair. And in each of these three very British crises the House of Windsor and the British ruling class come out exceedingly poorly. On all three crises the monarchy and the British State generally are found wanting. The Suez fiasco was a typical piece of British Imperialist skulduggery but in the new era of American dominance, Britain was no longer in a position to pull it off. The Crown showed Elizabeth to be weak and out of touch and Eden’s government to be the imperialist bully and criminally inept to boot. Egypt 1 the British State 0.
On the question of the so called Profumo Affair, there is not much that hasn’t already been covered but what is relatively new is Prince Phillip’s own meanderings within Steven Ward’s circle of celebrity and high-class call girls. Prostitution to give it its proper name. Apparently, this was not a one-off for our Royal Highness. On the contrary, Phillip is shown to be a serial philanderer and The Crown makes no secret of the fact. Now, whilst Sporting Polemics takes no particular interest nor moral position on these sort of comings and goings, – what happens between consenting adults is entirely their own affair- what is note-worthy is the sickening hypocrisy of the Royal Family in endlessly promoting family values and other hollow sounding Christian platitudes whilst their own family has licence to flout those values at will. And it should be added that while Phillip was getting it wherever and whenever he could, Princess Margaret was also having a gay old time. Yes, it’s the hypocrisy that sticks in the gullet rather than some imagined moral impropriety.
Thirdly, we have the perennial question of Edward’s abdication. This has, in the past, largely been served up as a question of his refusal to renounce his undying love for Mrs Simpson. But anyone who has bothered to investigate the matter quickly realises that Edward’s love life is quite secondary. Rather, it is all about his flirtation with Hitler’s Nazi regime. But here’s the interesting thing. The Crown makes the case that this was no mere flirtation but rather a full bloodied coup attempt in which he would aid and abet the Nazi bombardment of Britain in return for being returned to Royal High Office once Britain had surrendered. The documents produced by The Crown indicate total complicity by Edward. He was to be Hitler’s boy plain and simple. As for Britain, she would become a quisling state in league with the new Nazi world order. Interesting stuff. I very much doubt that the BBC would have had the nerve to so explicitly develop this theme. They are themselves virtually a quisling organisation when it comes to protecting the dirty linen of the monarchy and the British State.
The producers of The Crown intend to project the programme well into the modern era. I await with great anticipation their take on Britain’s dirty war against Ireland and all that that might entail for the British monarchy. Given their long silence on Ireland’s fight for full independence, one can only assume that the British monarchy was, as has historically been the case, fully aligned with prevailing anti-Irish sentiment that has prevailed in Westminster under successive governments. Perhaps The Crown has a few surprises on this front but I seriously doubt it.