Netflix announced today that acclaimed royal drama The Crown is set to end after its fifth season. Season 3 only just arrived on the streaming service late last year, which introduced the revamped cast – led by Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II – to audiences, and season 4 is already shooting, but after that, there’ll be just one more run left. And once again, it’ll come with an all-new cast, signifying the story reaching the Queen’s later years.
Deadline revealed the dual news this morning that season 5 would be the last of the series and that Imelda Staunton would be taking over the role of the British monarch from Colman. Staunton is best known for her turn as the wicked Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies. In contrast to Claire Foy, who played the young Elizabeth in seasons 1 and 2, and Colman, Staunton will only portray Her Majesty for a single season.
Fans may know that the long-term plan for the show has been to make it stretch to six seasons, with each leading actress getting a dual stab at the central role. However, this decision to curtail The Crown‘s run early comes from creator Peter Morgan, who explained in a statement that he decided this was the best time to call it a day when developing season 5.
Morgan said it “became clear… that this is the perfect time and place to stop. I’m grateful to Netflix and Sony for supporting me in this decision.”
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Cindy Holland, meanwhile, Vice President of Original Content for Netflix, had this to say about The Crown reaching its end:
“The first three seasons of The Crown defined an era, and I know the upcoming fourth season will build further on that success. It’s a stunning example of award-winning entertainment, created in the UK and loved by millions of fans around the world. I fully support Peter Morgan’s creative decision and am excited to see how he, Imelda Staunton and the cast and crew of Season 5, bring this landmark series to a fitting and spectacular end.”
Staunton’s casting has been reported before now, but the news that the show is calling it quits comes as a bit of a shock. Earlier this month, however, it was rumored that Prince Harry was keen to stop The Crown before it reached contemporary times and would have to cover his marriage to Meghan Markle. Obviously, we have no confirmation that the Duke of Sussex or the Royal Family had anything to do with the change of plan, but it does make you wonder.
In any case, The Crown season 4 is expected to arrive in winter 2020, with the fifth and final season probably landing the following year.