MPs accuse The Crown’s Prince Charles star of ‘outrageous’ bid to silence critics after he slapped down Culture Secretary who asked for ‘fiction’ disclaimer
- Tory MPs accused Josh O’Connor of trying to silence criticism of The Crown
- Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisted show should carry ‘fiction’ disclaimer
- The actor who plays Prince branded Mr Dowden’s intervention ‘outrageous’
The controversy over The Crown deepened last night after top Tories accused one of the lead actors from the Netflix series of trying to silence criticism of the show.
They issued a fierce rebuke to Josh O’Connor – who plays Prince Charles in the series – for suggesting Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had no right to insist the show should carry a ‘fiction’ disclaimer for misrepresenting the story of the Royal Family.
In an interview published last week, O’Connor branded Mr Dowden’s intervention ‘outrageous’ and implied the Minister should be focusing more on helping the UK’s struggling arts industry.
He admitted The Crown was ‘pure fiction’ but suggested viewers knew that.
OUTSPOKEN: Tory MPs accused actor Josh O’Connor of trying to silence criticism of The Crown last night. Pictured: Josh O’Connor with Emma Corrin as Diana in The Crown
Yesterday, however, three senior Tories sprang to Mr Dowden’s defence and hit back at the actor’s intervention.
Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds led the fightback, supported by former actor Giles Watling and Julian Knight, chairman of the powerful Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Mr Hinds told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Mr O’Connor says Oliver Dowden’s intervention is outrageous, but what would be truly outrageous would be trying to stop our Culture Secretary holding the streaming giant to account.
‘Oliver has every right to call for the series to carry a disclaimer.’
This follows Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisting the show should carry a ‘fiction’ disclaimer for misrepresenting the story of the Royal Family. Pictured: Prince Charles and Princess Diana with a young Prince William arriving at Alice Springs airport on March 20, 1983
He also made it clear that Netflix and O’Connor could not have it ‘both ways – Mr O’Connor suggesting it is “pure fiction” but Netflix insisting it doesn’t have to be clear with viewers about that’.
He added: ‘This is not some dramatisation of a novel. It is based on the lives of real people and it relays many events people will recognise, so although it contains fiction, it certainly isn’t “pure” fiction.’
Mr Hinds, a member of the DCMS committee, added his voice to calls for a review of the ‘regulatory framework for these video on-demand services, which have become a huge part of our viewing’.
The Mail on Sunday has highlighted how, under current rules, Netflix is regulated by a Dutch authority because the company is based in Holland.
But Mr Hinds said: ‘Platforms with a major presence in the UK should be covered by Ofcom, as others are.’
In an interview published last week, O’Connor branded Mr Dowden’s intervention ‘outrageous’ and implied the Minister should be focusing more on helping the UK’s struggling arts industry
In his interview last week, O’Connor said the Culture Secretary’s disclaimer intervention – first revealed in The Mail on Sunday two weeks ago – was a ‘low blow’ given how the industry was struggling.
However, Mr Knight praised Mr Dowden’s efforts to support the arts in the pandemic.
In July, the Culture Secretary unveiled a £1.57 billion package aimed at protecting the future of Britain’s museums, galleries and theatres.
Mr Watling insisted Mr Dowden was right to call for a disclaimer, saying of the series: ‘This is fiction. They are putting words into the mouths of people who are alive and trying to go about their business, whether they are royal or not.’
In remarks published yesterday, Olivia Colman, who plays the Queen in The Crown’s third and fourth series, appeared to admit not all viewers would know scenes were invented for the screen.
She said: ‘Obviously, anything behind closed doors is made up, which I assumed was obvious, but may be not.’