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Saturday, Apr 17, 2021

‘Check for little people behind the screen’: UK culture secretary mocked for suggesting Netflix should warn ‘The Crown’ is fiction

‘Check for little people behind the screen’: UK culture secretary mocked for suggesting Netflix should warn ‘The Crown’ is fiction

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has suggested the hit Netflix series ‘The Crown’ should come with a “health warning” so people know the show is a work of fiction. Online reaction proves not all viewers approve of the idea.

Though Dowden praised the show as a “beautifully produced work of fiction,” he believes Netflix “should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.”

‘The Crown’ is a scripted piece of historical fiction following the royal family, and it is currently in its fourth series. Dowden fears that if the show does not warn viewers that it is fiction then people will take everything presented as truth.

“I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact,” he told the Daily Mail.

Dowden plans on taking his suggestion a step further by formally writing to Netflix and requesting “health warnings” for the show.

The culture secretary is not the only person advocating for disclaimers to be added to ‘The Crown’. Charles Spencer, the younger brother of the late Princess Diana, who is portrayed in the latest season, recently told ITV that warning viewers the series is “based around some real events” but “isn’t true” would “help” it.

“Then everyone would understand it's drama for drama's sake,” he said.

The suggestion that viewers need to be reminded a scripted dramatic work is fiction had many on social media mocking Dowden and others.

“I just don’t know where to start with Oliver Dowden using his full powers of headed notepaper to demand Netflix proclaim The Crown is fiction,” journalist Janine Gibson tweeted, “but maybe a trip round the back of the flat screen to check there aren’t little people living there.”

“How infantilising,” writer Elle Hunt added.

Some, however, have joined in with the calls for trigger warnings to be added to the Netflix drama.

“I actually think this is a good idea, people tend to believe whatever is on the screen,” reporter Matthew Zeitlin tweeted in response to Dowden’s suggestion.

‘The Crown’ has made waves for not only its actors’ portrayals of real figures, but also its dark storylines, such as a recent one dealing with bulimia, suffered by the character of Diana. The series actually did come with a disclaimer attached to the episode about the disorder.

The series has reportedly been watched by over 70 million households worldwide.


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Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.

Oscar Ameringer
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