Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden demands Netflix make it clear The Crown is ‘fiction’

Oliver Dowden last night demanded that Netflix make clear The Crown is ‘fiction’.

In a dramatic intervention, the Culture Secretary added his voice to mounting concern that fabricated scenes in the drama series were so damaging to the Royal Family that viewers should be warned at the start of each episode that it was not ‘fact’.

‘It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.

‘Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.’

The Culture Secretary added his voice to mounting concern that fabricated scenes in the drama series were so damaging to the Royal Family (pictured, Princess Diana in the show)

The Culture Secretary added his voice to mounting concern that fabricated scenes in the drama series were so damaging to the Royal Family (pictured, Princess Diana in the show)

The Culture Secretary added his voice to mounting concern that fabricated scenes in the drama series were so damaging to the Royal Family (pictured, Princess Diana in the show) 

Mr Dowden is expected to write to the streaming giant to formally request that it adds what others have called a ‘health warning’ at the start of each episode.

It comes amid deepening concern that fabricated scenes written by screenwriter Peter Morgan are doing lasting damage to the monarchy and Prince Charles in particular. 

Last night, a friend of the Prince said: ‘It is quite sinister the way that Morgan is clearly using light entertainment to drive a very overt republican agenda and people just don’t see it. 

They have been lured in over the first few series until they can’t see how they are being manipulated.

The Mail on Sunday has led calls for a disclaimer to be added to the series, amid claims it has already been watched by more people than tuned in for Charles's real-life wedding to Princess Diana (pictured)

The Mail on Sunday has led calls for a disclaimer to be added to the series, amid claims it has already been watched by more people than tuned in for Charles's real-life wedding to Princess Diana (pictured)

The Mail on Sunday has led calls for a disclaimer to be added to the series, amid claims it has already been watched by more people than tuned in for Charles’s real-life wedding to Princess Diana (pictured)

‘It is highly sophisticated propaganda.’

The Mail on Sunday has led calls for a disclaimer to be added to the series, amid claims it has already been watched by more people than tuned in for Charles’s real-life wedding to Princess Diana.

It was reported last week that 29 million logged on to the streaming service to watch the drama in the week after its release earlier this month – 600,000 more than the British TV audience for the actual wedding in 1981.

Controversy over invented scenes, including the false suggestion that the affair between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles continued throughout his marriage to Diana, prompted the Princess’s brother to add his voice to the calls for a disclaimer.

Earl Spencer told ITV: ‘It would help The Crown an enormous amount if at the beginning of each episode it stated that, ‘This isn’t true but is based around some real events’. Because then everyone would understand it’s drama for drama’s sake.’

Mr Dowden, whose full title is Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, is also facing pressure to close a ‘loophole’ that requires British viewers who want to complain about The Crown to go to the Dutch TV regulator because Netflix is based in Holland. 

In a letter to Mr Dowden, Tory peer Lord Forsyth – who describes the latest series of The Crown as ‘one step up from Spitting Image’ – expressed surprise that ‘Netflix pays no corporation tax as the £1 billion of UK subscriptions are paid to a Dutch company’.

There are deepening concerns that fabricated scenes written by screenwriter Peter Morgan are doing lasting damage to the monarchy and Prince Charles in particular (pictured, Princess Diana in The Crown)

There are deepening concerns that fabricated scenes written by screenwriter Peter Morgan are doing lasting damage to the monarchy and Prince Charles in particular (pictured, Princess Diana in The Crown)

There are deepening concerns that fabricated scenes written by screenwriter Peter Morgan are doing lasting damage to the monarchy and Prince Charles in particular (pictured, Princess Diana in The Crown) 

This weekend, it emerged that Netflix will begin paying tax on revenues it makes from British subscribers from January 1. The Mail on Sunday can also reveal:

  •  Allies of Margaret Thatcher have condemned the series for suggesting she asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament to save her from being ousted as Prime Minister in 1990.
  •  Two Royal Navy commanders who fought in the Falklands War criticised The Crown for appearing to suggest that the Queen failed to support British troops during the conflict.
  • Clarence House was forced to restrict comments on its social media channels following ‘horrendous’ trolling of the Duchess of Cornwall, including death threats.

Emma Corrin, who plays Princess Diana, has admitted that the controversial fourth series is ‘fictionalised to a great extent’.

During a series of interviews, the 24-year-old said the storylines were invented and the members of the Royal Family depicted in the new series were ‘characters’ created by Mr Morgan.

US chat show host Tamron Hall asked Ms Corrin about reports that MPs and Royals were upset by The Crown’s depiction of Charles, Diana and Camilla.

‘It’s a difficult one,’ she replied. ‘I think for everyone in The Crown we always try and remind everyone that… the series we are in is fictionalised to a great extent.

‘Obviously it has its roots in reality and in some fact but Peter Morgan’s scripts are works of fiction.’

Allies of Mrs Thatcher spoke of their fury at scenes suggesting that she sought to avoid being deposed in 1990 by urging the Queen to act in the ‘national interest’ by dissolving Parliament and allowing her to call a General Election.

Lord (Charles) Moore, Mrs Thatcher’s biographer, dismissed the account as ‘dotty’ and ‘a very bad mistake by The Crown’.

Asked yesterday if it would include a disclaimer, Netflix declined to comment. Mr Morgan has previously defended his approach, saying: ‘You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.’

Drama gets a £16m ‘heritage’ tax break 

The Crown has benefited from Government tax breaks worth up to £16 million for its contribution to Britain’s ‘culture and heritage’, documents lodged with the European Commission show.

Left Bank Pictures, which produces The Crown, received the windfall for its first two series. 

Series three and the latest, four, will also be eligible. Under the scheme, designed to encourage TV production in the UK, scripted productions can claim up to £2 million of tax relief for each hour of drama costing £10 million or more to produce.

To qualify, productions must pass a points test administered by the British Film Institute for their contribution to Britain’s culture.

Points are earned if they contribute ‘to the promotion, development and enhancement of British creativity, British heritage and diversity’.

Last night, a spokesman for Left Bank Pictures said: ‘In the past year, 275 British productions have been supported by this UK Government tax incentive. 

‘Left Bank Pictures does not claim the credit for the company, it is claimed by the production and the money is reinvested into the production budget.’

This weekend, Netflix announced it will start paying tax on the £1 billion of revenues it makes from its British subscribers to the UK tax authorities. 

Since 2012 when Netflix was launched in Britain, the company has funnelled UK-generated revenue through the Netherlands which is a low-tax jurisdiction. The change will come into effect on January 1.

Netflix said it had ‘seen rapid international growth in recent years and we want our corporate structure to better reflect our growing business operations and footprint in key markets’.

 

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