Nick Ferrari slams the BBC following Martin Bashir inquiry
Many royal commentators and watchers have hit out at The Crown over the past few years for showing on screen events linked to the Firm which are, at times, heavily dramatised. Moments which have come in for criticism include the portrayal of Charles and Camilla’s extramarital relations in the 1980s and 1990s, as part of the breakdown of Diana and Charles’ marriage.
However, historian and author Dr Tessa Dunlop believe the latest season of The Crown will make “the BBC look bad” rather than members of the Firm, as it will bring back to the attention of viewers, albeit in a fictionalised way, the way Martin Bashir gained access to the late Princess of Wales in 1995.
Speaking ahead of the release of the fifth season of The Crown, Dr Dunlop, author of the newly-released book Elizabeth and Philip: A Story of Young Love, Marriage and Monarchy, told Express.co.uk: “It’s a fiction based on facts, that’s what historical drama is.
“I think we get terribly upset because we sort of think that people are going to take this as the truth. Well if they do so they are pretty silly.
“I mean, it’s very obvious, the actors just look nothing like [the royals] this time, as far as I am concerned.
Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana in 1995 is featured in the fifth season of The Crown
Imelda Staunton interprets late Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and sixth seasons of The Crown
“Imelda Staunton just isn’t a convincing Queen I don’t think, she is a good actress and makes a fine interpretation but I don’t for one minute think I am listening to the Queen talk.”
The historian added: “It’s like a caricature, it needs to be taken in a manner in which it has been created – as a reminder of an extraordinary period and an artistic take on the period. And yes, painful things happened. It’s difficult going over your past.
“I am really glad I am not King Charles and that people aren’t going through my past.”
The commentator then noted how this season of the show would feature some of the most shocking royal events of the early 1990s, including Princess Diana’s interview with Panorama.
She said: “The real loser that is going to come out from that interview will be the BBC.
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Princess Diana was interviewed by Martin Bashir in November 1995
“I think what’s interesting about it is that to an extent it forces us to engage with it, to reflect from a contemporary point of view on things that happened 20, 30 years ago and you realise how much things have changed.”
On the other hand, the royals involved in the critical events of the 1990s, like King Charles and the late Princess Diana, will likely look like “victims” to most people who are watching the show.
She said: “Historically we already know about Charles and Diana. Does this make them look bad? I don’t think so, if anything it makes them look like they were the victims.”
The latest season of The Crown shows across two episodes Mr Bashir – played by actor Prasanna Puwanarajah – gaining access to Charles Spencer, the late Princess of Wales’s brother, first and then Princess Diana by faking bank statements and fuelling the late Princess of Wales’s fears she was being spied on by the secret services.
The BBC issued an apology after the report by Lord Dyson was published
The BBC did not comment on Dr Dunlop’s remarks when approached by Express.co.uk.
The broadcaster accepted the findings by Lord Dyson into the circumstances around the 1995 Panorama interview and published an unreserved apology the day the report was published in May last year.
Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, said at the time: “Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.
“While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way. The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.
“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”
Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana in The Crown’s season 5 and 6
The BBC also wrote privately to a number of the individuals linked to the scandal to apologise directly to them.
Among the report’s findings, it was revealed Mr Bashir lied and used fake documents to obtain access to the late Princess of Wales and made false claims to her about the Royal Family – a move which Prince William said “played on her fears and fuelled paranoia”.
In his statement, the heir to the throne said Diana’s interview with Panorama “holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.”
The publicly-funded broadcaster, Mr Davie announced earlier this year, has since decided to never show the programme again nor “license it in whole or part to other broadcasters”.