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The Crown 2: Behind the silk damask curtains at the palace

PUBLISHED: 12:22 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:22 05 December 2017

Elizabeth and Philip discuss Charles' education

Elizabeth and Philip discuss Charles' education

Netflix

The Crown 2: All you need to know about the Netflix drama - minxy behaviour, scandal and a brilliant Royal joke (according to me)

It’s the crowning glory of Netflix’s festive line-up, the most expensive TV series ever made and an early Christmas present for those who have been waiting in anticipation for series two.

The Crown 2 returns on Friday and is set to cover another decade of right royal history and scandal, set at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s and taking the most famous family in Britain through the chaos of the Suez Crisis, Princess Margaret’s marriage to Lord Snowdon and Prince Phillip’s rumoured infidelity.

Every episode will be available from December 8 and Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby will be back in their roles as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret, joined by Edward Jennings as the Duke of Windsor, Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother, Matthew Goode as Lord Snowdon and Jodi Balfour as First Lady Jackie Kennedy while her husband will be played by Michael C Hall of Dexter fame.

Is it any good? Yes: The Crown is compulsive viewing: it’s a story you’ll feel you know until you watch and realise you knew nothing at all. Although, of course, one must consume one’s television with a large pinch of rock salt from the condiment set. Written by two-times Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, it’s a tightly drawn tale of the ascension and early reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the challenges she faced. Claire Foy is particularly impressive – you won’t be able to take your eyes off her.

Am I about to begin a committed relationship? I fear so. The makers of The Crown intend to portray the Queen’s reign from the 1950s to the present-day, with each series roughly covering a decade.

What’s the big news in The Crown 2? It’s the Suez Crisis of 1956: that year, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company, the joint British-French enterprised which had owned the operated the canal since it was built in 1869. The announcement came after months of political tension between the three nations – when Britain and France were outraged at the move, Nasser saw it as a further effort to perpetuate their colonial domination and America stepped in to try and broker a diplomatic settlement amid strong hints from the UK that it might resort to force. As hostilities began to step up, America put pressure on the UK and France to accept a United Nations ceasefire and created a UN Peacekeeping Force. Fancy: a time when the American administration was so reasonable.

What about on the domestic front? We find out more about Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret’s back stories, from the disintegration of Princess Margaret’s engagement to Peter Townsend in 1955 to Phillip’s four-month world tour on the Royal Yacht to open the Sydney Olympics. In one trailer, Elizabeth II is seen scolding her husband for his “restlessness”. She tells him: “It has to be a thing from the past. The monarchy is too fragile. You keep telling me yourself: one more scandal, one more national embarrassment and it will all be over.” We see some more Royal births (Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964 to the Queen and David and Sarah in 1961 and 1964 to Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon) and find out more about Prince Charles’ relationship with his father. Anthony Eden’s handling of the Suez Crisis sees him exiting Number 10 in 1957 and followed by Harold Macmillan (1957 to 1963), Alec Douglas-Home (1963 to 1964) and Harold Wilson in quick succession.

That’s quite a few prime ministers in a short space of time? After Anthony Eden’s swift departure, Conservative Harold Macmillan stepped in to steady the ship. He didn’t expect to navigate through the Profumo affair when Secretary of State for War John Profumo had an affair with a 19-year-old model which tore apart the credibility of his government and almost toppled the Conservative Party.

Did the Queen’s tutor really have a pet raven? Yes. Henry Marten, the Vice-Provost of Eton kept a raven in his study as he taught Elizabeth about constitutional history.

So can you tell the budget was a reported £20 million? There’s been a fair amount of cash spent on the heavyweight cast, the sets and the incredible costumes. And Royal Yachts don’t come cheap…

Will Foy and Smith be back for series three? No – as the characters age, so do the actors playing them. Netflix has announced that Claire Foy will hand over the reigns (sic) to Olivia Colman but the replacement for Matt Smith is yet to be announced: there’s speculation that it could be Ralph Fiennes, Tom Hollander, Colin Firth, David Tennant or Bertie Carvel (recently seen as smug Simon in Doctor Foster). And who will play Princess Diana? She will debut at the end of season three and feature “heavily” in the fourth and fifth seasons. There’s also the role of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to cast…

If you like The Crown, you should also watch…Downton Abbey, Outlander and Victoria.

Do you have a joke about the Royal Family which is suitable for a family publication? Yes: The Royal Family moved into my street. They live Tudors down.

If you haven’t sent Santa your Christmas list yet, pop tickets for this festive-fuelled fairytale on it first.

It’s not Christmas without a visit to Red Rose Chain’s The Avenue Theatre. We spoke to writer and director Joanna Carrick and actors Emma Swan, Darren Latham and Ryan Penny about The Elves and The Shoemaker.

A great panto starts from the moment the audience enters the auditorium and starts looking at the set laid out before it. Arts editor Andrew Clarke talks to designer David Shields about the art of creating a larger-than-life panto world

DanceEast is staging the premiere of a new dance-theatre production of the children’s classic The Borrowers. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to director Jane Hackett about putting dancers in the middle of an animated world

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says Greg Davies, live in Ipswich as part of the You Magnificent Beast tour, is one of the funniest stand-ups she’s seen.

Robert Wright throughly enjoys Dick Whittington, this year’s panto offering at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal

Cockney fun Fairy Pearl promised us she would take us to “a world of pure imagination”.

The Colchester Mercury clearly know that they have got a pair of panto superstars in the infectiously funny Dale Superville and Dame Antony Stuart-Hicks and have harnessed their talent for comic mayhem for another Yuletide adventure.

A pantomime being put on in a north Essex village is bringing members of the community together – and raising money for charity.

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