Downton Abbey showrunner Julian Fellowes has leapt to the defence of Prince Philip, saying his portrayal in The Crown was “unfair.”
The comments were made during an appearance on an episode of Katie Couric’s podcast released yesterday (June 28), and bring two of our favorite shows into contention.
Thankfully though, we don’t have to choose between them. The Downton creator and writer is a big fan of the rival show, calling it a “wonderful piece of work,” and praising the “brilliant, brilliant writing” by its showrunner Peter Morgan.
“I think he’s the best writer on television at the moment,” Julian said. “And [the show is] deservedly successful, as far as I’m concerned.”
Nor does Julian have a problem with Matt Smith, who so memorably portrayed the Duke of Edinburgh in seasons one and two of The Crown. Which is good news, because anyone who has a problem with The Doctor, has a problem with us too.
No, Julian’s issue is with dramatizing the lives of real people, specifically those who are still alive.
“For me, I’m not completely comfortable with dramatizing people who are still alive and still living their lives,” he explained to podcast host Katie. “Because I think it’s possible to be unfair. And in the second series, I didn’t think it was fair to Prince Philip, to the Duke of Edinburgh, based on very little.”
That “very little” refers to certain rumors about the Duke, which are treated as fact in the second season released on Netflix last December. Asked if he believes “artistic licence” has been used to portray real-life figures, Julian replied:
“You’re getting me into a tricky area here. I think that a lot of it was based on obviously very good research, but some of it was not. Some of it was extrapolation from a rumor or someone’s rather prejudiced account. And then it was presented as fact. I’m not sure that’s just.”
Julian acknowledged he might be “punished” for criticizing such a successful show, but nonetheless asked if the Duke “deserves” such treatment when he does such “a good job” and is “popular” and “loved.”
Clearly Julian is a brave man. Although perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has a sharp word or two for others on occasion, given he invented a character as formidable as Downton’s Dowager Countess.
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