When we were in Las Vegas last year, visiting our son and daughter-in-law, on one particular evening they were otherwise occupied. They made sure to seat us comfortably in the living room facing the large TV screen, handed us the remote control, and told us to find something on Netflix that would interest us. We looked at many garish posters advertising mainly American films which did not interest us in the least.
As we progressed down past the gaudy pictures on display, the solitary figure of a woman dressed in a sober blue outfit caught my eye. ‘The Crown,’ was the title, and this turned out to be a series made especially for Netflix (until then neither Yigal nor I had even heard of Netflix, the company that provides TV entertainment to many Americans who are sick and tired of the tasteless fare offered by the TV channels in that country).
We started to watch and were hooked from the very first moment. The series follows the life of our own dear Queen Elizabeth, tracing the trajectory of her life from childhood until her coronation (an event I remember), and then onwards through several decades.
The series appears to have been made with a great deal of attention to detail, and with first-class actors (British, of course). Alongside the personal life and development of the main characters, Elizabeth, Philip, and other members of the royal family, political events are given suitable prominence, and the interaction between the two strands is both entertaining and enlightening.
And so we are taken gently through the scandals and crises that have beset British politics and the royal family since time immemorial, starting with the abdication of the Queen’s uncle, Edward the Fifth, that caused her father to become George the Sixth and thus, it is intimated, bringing about his early demise and Elizabeth’s consequent accession to the throne.
We see the stately figure of Churchill, England’s war-time leader, gradually deteriorate until he is finally left with no choice but to resign. We see, too, the unfortunate incident of the portrait of him painted by Graham Sutherland which is eventually consigned to the flames in a fit of pique (or possibly artistic jealousy). Other prime ministers do not fare much better, with Anthony Eden leaving in disgrace after the Suez crisis and the fiasco of his collusion with France and Israel, and his successor Harold MacMillan, bowing out not-very-gracefully on the grounds of ill health but probably more as a result of the unfortunate Profumo scandal.
What is particularly fascinating for me is that I remember many of those incidents and even as a child was an avid reader of the daily newspaper that was delivered to our front door. To have lived through events and then to see them portrayed, with greater or lesser accuracy, as a television series, is a unique experience that cannot have been experienced by many people, I think.
In Las Vegas we ‘binge watched’ some twelve or so episodes, but then had no time or strength left to see any more (twenty have been made so far). But rest assured, almost as soon as we touched down back in Israel we subscribed to Netflix and managed to complete viewing the entire series. Now, together with many others, I am awaiting the production of the next series. After all, our Queen has reached the age of 92, and so there’s a lot more fun to be had, I’m sure.
Recently, I was treated to an extra bonus when one of my sisters asked if she could come round and watch ‘The Crown’ with me. Of course, I agreed, and so the two of us have been meeting weekly to watch the series, laugh and cry together, and enjoy our trip down memory lane. The fact that I have seen it all already does not detract in any way from my pleasure and emotional involvement.