The Crown reveals the not-so-fine-line between drama and documentary | Blaise Tapp

A scene from The Crown Season 4. Picture shows Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin)A scene from The Crown Season 4. Picture shows Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin)
A scene from The Crown Season 4. Picture shows Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin)
A prerequisite for becoming a journalist is that you must have a thick skin, or at least develop one pretty quickly.

Brickbats and vitriol are a fact of life if you opt for a career covering news for a living, especially if you work for a newspaper.

Although working in newsrooms across the country was the privilege of my life, I don’t miss the casual abuse that I regularly received from complete strangers, the vast majority of whom would nearly always utter that deeply unoriginal phrase, or a variation of: ‘Everybody knows that you shouldn’t believe what is written in newspapers,’ during their tirade.

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This line was often delivered in a smug tone and a certainty that nobody had ever told me this before. It always puzzled me, why if it really were true, would anybody be bothered about a word that was printed.

Another age-old mystery is how the very same people who have an inherent dislike for the printed media will swallow whole whatever they see on the television like it is a pixel-filled oracle of truth.

A perfect example of this came at the weekend when the secretary of state digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden made an extraordinary intervention about the hit Netflix show, The Crown.

Presumably prompted by comments made by Prince William and friends of his father, Prince Charles, Mr Dowden says he is writing to the makers of the show to express concern that fans might be under the misapprehension that what they are enjoying is a documentary, not a work of fiction.

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He would like to see a disclaimer at the beginning of the programme which points out that The Crown, in the words of creator Peter Morgan is ‘an act of creative imagination’ or something along those lines.

The intervention is extraordinary not only because senior politicians really should be currently too busy to worry about television shows but also because he believes it necessary that this needs to be pointed out.

While the dimwittedness of some never ceases to amaze me, do people really need telling that scriptwriters from the show haven’t chanced upon time travel and secreted themselves in Balmoral or the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in order to glean content for future episodes?

We are latecomers to The Crown and are currently racing through the series at a rate of two episodes a night.

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The dialogue in the earlier episodes is first class as are many of the performances and the drama moves quickly enough that it is difficult to get bored with a show that has become a phenomenon.

It is escapism in its purest form – great sets, fantastic scenery and familiar characters but if Mrs Tapp and I wanted to know about the inner workings of the House of Windsor (and we don’t by the way), we’d flick through to the History Channel.

Although the narrative is set around famous historical events, I don’t know anybody silly enough who doesn’t understand that what they are watching is a drama.

The secretary of state’s suggestion that younger viewers who haven’t lived through as many royal scandals and sensations as their elders might mistake fact for fiction is bordering on the offensive.

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To brand an entire generation as gullible is unfair but Mr Dowden is trying his hardest not to describe folk who might think that this programme is the work of Attenborough or his contemporaries as stupid.

Every society has its fair share of daft people but that doesn’t mean that governments have to treat the majority as such as it means that our leaders are entering Nanny State territory.

The vast majority of the population are sensible individuals who are perfectly capable of distinguishing between drama and documentary and it really isn’t the business of politicians to act as de facto narrators.

Now, where’s my remote control...

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