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Britain’s Culture Minister Wants A Fiction Disclaimer On ‘The Crown.’ What Obligation Should Fictionalized Shows Have In Depicting True Events?

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997), visits Colston's School in Bristol, UK, 19th November 1983.
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997), visits Colston's School in Bristol, UK, 19th November 1983.
Len Trievnor/Getty Images

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Britain’s culture minister made waves on social media this weekend after he said that Netflix’s series “The Crown” should carry a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction. 

The series’ fourth season, which depicts the political and social events of 1980s Britain through the lens of the royal family, have proven particularly divisive. New characters include former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana, whose premature death in 1997 shocked the nation.

One of the major storylines of the series centers on the troubled relationship between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, a depiction which saw fans of the show flooding the social media accounts of Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, with negative comments.

The newest controversy has brought up a familiar debate: what ethical considerations should be taken by a fictionalized show when representing true events? And what bearing do film and television have on public perceptions of history?

Today on AirTalk, we discuss the historical bearing that film and television have on public understanding of true historical events. Questions? Comments? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.


Patt Morrison, columnist with the Los Angeles Times; she tweets @pattmlatimes

Steven Fielding, professor of political history at the University of Nottingham and a coauthor of “The Churchill Myths” (Oxford University Press 2020), which addresses Churchill’s legacy in part through his depiction in media and the culture; he tweets @PolProfSteve