TV review: Season 4 of The Crown is a cautionary tale of royal pains
If there is a theme to this penultimate fourth season of award-winning historical drama series The Crown, which is currently streaming on Netflix, it is that children are horrible and it is the parents who are to blame.
This is the British royal family through the 80s - an era that saw the reverence its members previously enjoyed unceremoniously stripped away, in part because it was the decade of Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana.
While series creator Peter Morgan admires HRH - that much was obvious in his play The Audience and the 2006 film The Queen - he has no time for her offspring.
Or rather, they probably wish he had no time for them.
We had a glimpse of Charles and Anne last season. Now, we get a look at a very spoiled and incredibly entitled Edward and Andrew. Of course, Andrew has his own issues these days.
Charles gets the harshest portrayal and actor Josh O'Connor should not expect an invite to the palace.
Here, his character is an emotional cripple, barely able to function socially outside of his garden or without the presence of long-time paramour Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), a man also consumed by bitterness due to the attention his new young bride is getting.
When they were engaged, Charles was 32 and Diana was 19 - an age gap the royals would not risk today.
Emma Corrin captures the shyness of Diana's public face, and it is hard not to empathise as she is left to wallow alone for weeks on end.
The royals are shown to be their own worst enemy, oblivious to the feelings of others, belittling those unaware of their arcane protocols, spawning enemies in both Diana and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson), whose humiliating trip to Balmoral puts the Queen (Olivia Colman) in her cross hairs.
Morgan's real-life partner Anderson gives an uncanny portrayal of Thatcher.
Between her and Corrin, they demote Colman into sharing lead actress duties.
Do not be surprised if Anderson is called upon for a spin-off series on Thatcher's time as UK prime minister. She, too, is portrayed as a resolute leader, unable to read the room and a flawed mother with an adult problem child.
While this season has some surprises - episode seven is truly shocking - it does plod in places and can be heavy-handed with the visual metaphors.
Then again, it is a drama, not a documentary. If nothing else, hopefully it serves as a cautionary tale to all parents.
SERIES: The Crown 4
STARRING: Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Charles Dance, Emma Corrin, Josh O’Connor, Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter
THE SKINNY: Tragedy strikes as Charles’ (O’Connor) father figure Lord Mountbatten (Dance) is killed in a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher (Anderson) becomes prime minister to dominate UK politics for a decade, and Charles is being pushed into finding a wife – enter Diana Spencer (Corrin) – to distract from his ongoing affair.