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Dame Judi Dench calls out Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ for “crude sensationalism,” calls for disclaimer before episodes

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Add Dame Judi Dench to the chorus of critics speaking out about how Netflix’s The Crown portrays the British royal family.

In a piece for The Times published Wednesday, the English actress — who’s portrayed two past British queens in three different films — criticized the hit drama, writing, “The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism.”

Noting some of the suggested storylines for the show’s upcoming fifth season — “that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence” — Dench continued, “This is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.”

“No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged,” Dench added. “Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalized drama’, the program makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode.”

“The time has come for Netflix to reconsider — for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their own reputation in the eyes of their British subscribers,” Dench concluded.

The Crown is based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who died September 8 at age 96 after a U.K.-record 70-year reign. Netflix has received broader criticism for its decision to debut the drama’s fifth season on November 9, coming as it does just two months after the late monarch’s death.

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