The Crown viewers could mistake fiction for fact, Culture Secretary fears

Viewers of hit Netflix series The Crown could be in danger of mistaking fiction for fact without a warning at the beginning of episodes, the Culture Secretary has said.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), praised the drama centred around the royal family as a "beautifully produced work of fiction".

But he raised concerns that younger viewers might mistake fictional depictions for real-life happenings.

He told the Mail on Sunday: "It's a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.

"Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact."

The newspaper said Mr Dowden is expected to write to Netflix to request a reference at the start of episodes making clear the drama is fictionalised.

DCMS did not have any comment on Saturday.

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Stars of The Crown
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Stars of The Crown
Emma Corrin as Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)
Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles in The Crown. (Netflix)
Emma Corrin as Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)
Emma Corrin as Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)
Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'. (Netflix/Sophie Mutevelian)
Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies in The Crown. (Netflix)
Olivia Colman, a cast member in the Netflix series "The Crown," poses at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Gillian Anderson, a cast member in the Netflix series "The Crown," poses at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Erin Doherty, a cast member in the Netflix series "The Crown," poses at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Peter Morgan, left, the creator/writer/executive producer of the Netflix series "The Crown," poses with cast member John Lithgow at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Peter Morgan, center, the creator/writer/executive producer of the Netflix series "The Crown," poses with cast members Helena Bonham Carter, left, and Olivia Colman at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Josh O'Connor, a cast member in the Netflix series "The Crown," poses at a gala screening of the show at the 2019 AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 file photo, actors Claire Foy, left, and Matt Smith pose for photographers on arrival at the premiere of the series 'The Crown, Season 2' in central London. Producers of the Netflix drama "The Crown" apologized Tuesday to actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith over the revelation that Foy was paid less than her male co-star. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP, File)
Actresses Claire Foy, left, and Vanessa Kirby pose for photographers on arrival at the premiere of the Netflix series 'The Crown: Season 2' in London, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Charles Dance, Erin Doherty, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Morgan, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies and Josh O’Connor attend AFI Fest: The Crown & Peter Morgan Tribute at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 16, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Netflix)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Jason Watkins, Tobias Menzies and Josh O'Connor attend the World Premiere of Netflix Original Series "The Crown" Season 3 at The Curzon Mayfair on November 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: (L-R) Tobias Menzies, Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter attend the World Premiere of Netflix Original Series "The Crown" Season 3 at The Curzon Mayfair on November 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Harry Treadaway attends the World Premiere of Netflix Original Series "The Crown" Season 3 at The Curzon Mayfair on November 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
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Mr Dowden's remarks come after a similar suggestion from Earl Spencer, the brother of Diana, Princess of Wales.

He told ITV's Lorraine: "I think it would help The Crown an enormous amount if, at the beginning of each episode, it stated that: 'This isn't true but it is based around some real events'."

He added: "I worry people do think that this is gospel and that's unfair."

The drama recently came in for criticism from the widow of a major killed in a Swiss ski resort, who said she was "very upset" to learn the disaster features in the latest series, after asking producers not to include it.

Major Hugh Lindsay, a friend of the Prince of Wales and a former Queen's equerry, died in an avalanche at the Swiss resort of Klosters in 1988.

His widow Sarah Horsley said she was "horrified" when she was told the episode was going ahead and was concerned about the impact on her daughter.

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