Helena Bonham Carter to ‘hand over cigarette holder’ to new Crown star

Helena Bonham Carter has said she feels like she should “hand over the cigarette holder” to Lesley Manville when she takes over the role of Princess Margaret in The Crown.

The Sweeney Todd star took over the role of the Queen’s sister for the third and upcoming fourth series of the Netflix show, replacing Vanessa Kirby.

Manville will follow in her footsteps for the fifth and six, alongside Imelda Staunton, who will replace Olivia Colman as the monarch.

House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards 2016 – Arrivals – London
House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards 2016 – Arrivals – London

Bonham Carter said she was “really scared” to take over the part initially, particularly because Kirby had won a Bafta for her portrayal, but she has now also been nominated for a supporting actress Bafta for the role, as well as an Emmy.

Joined by her fellow nominees, Top Boy’s Jasmine Jobson, The End Of The F****** World’s Naomi Ackie and The Virtues’ Helen Behan at a Bafta panel ahead of Friday’s delayed virtual ceremony, she said: “I felt like there was only one way and it’s down.

The Crown season three
The Crown season three

“I wasn’t immediately ‘gotta do it!’. When you play somebody that everyone thinks they know, you’ve got that hanging on your shoulders.”

Discussing Manville taking over the role, she said: “It’s like handing a baton, it’s like this race we are all running.

“Vanessa Kirby was incredibly enthusiastic and kind and generous and gave me lots of tips and I said ‘Help, how do I do this?’ becuase you can get a bit overwhelmed by the research.

“And it’s conspicuous, you know people are going to watch it, which is a great gift. I’ve done lots of things no one has seen.

“With Leslie, I feel like I should hand her the cigarette holder that I use as a baton – ‘Over to you!’ – she’s going to have a a great time with her and I’m chuffed it’s her, she’s a great actress and she will have great fun.”

Bonham Carter said it is “night and day” in the change in roles for women now and added: “When I was 18 you were just offered girlfriend parts and you’re typecast, even more so because of what you look like.

“I was the period costume posh girl, that was my label. Luckly I got typecast in novels, so i thought this was great, every character had some sort of foundations, better than the Baywatch option.”

“But now we have got these great things on Netflix and Amazon and the whole thing of television means we have got the canvas and can explore character.”

The Crown and Chernobyl lead the way at this year’s TV Baftas, with the royal drama up for best drama series, and Bonham Carter’s co-star Josh O’Connor nominated for best supporting actor as a young Prince of Wales.

Gritty Sky drama Chernobyl – an unflinching portrayal of the events surrounding the 1986 nuclear disaster – is also heavy hitter in the nominations.

It is up for best mini-series, as well as leading actor for Jared Harris and supporting actor for Stellan Skarsgard.

BBC Three hit Fleabag is up for three of the main TV awards, including scripted comedy.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Sian Clifford, who played sisters in the show, are both nominated, for best female performance in a comedy programme.

Dominic Cummings’ story – Brexit: The Uncivil War – could win best single drama for Channel 4.

It featured Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of the Vote Leave mastermind – before his time as Number 10 adviser – and told the story of the controversial, data-driven political campaign for Brexit.

Meanwhile, Newsnight’s interview with the Duke Of York is in the running for best news coverage.

The TV Baftas will be held as a closed-studio, socially distanced show hosted by Richard Ayoade at 7pm on Friday on BBC One.