Waiting for The Crown? Here are seven regal dramas to pass the time…
We’re still at least five months away from the debut of the fifth season of Netflix’s megahit drama, The Crown.
Now, we don’t know the release date for sure, but the show’s first, second and fourth season all arrived in November on Netflix (opens in new tab), while the show’s third debuted in the first week of December, so, it seems pretty likely that it’ll be a similar time this year for its fifth run.
As when the show moved from its second season to its third, it’s all changed this time for the show’s key cast.
Olivia Colman is out and we’re welcoming Imelda Staunton to the role of Queen Elizabeth II, while Tobias Menzies will be stepping aside to allow fellow Game of Thrones (opens in new tab) co-star Jonathan Pryce to take over as Prince Philip.
Lesley Manville will assume the role of Princess Margaret from Helena Bonham-Carter, Tenet star Elizabeth Debicki takes over as Princess Diana from breakout star Emma Corrin, she will be playing out a messy divorce with Prince Charles now played by Dominic West.
The Crown’s fifth season will cover the early and mid-1990s, with Charles and Diana’s divorce and the arrival of a new Labour government expected to feature prominently in the narrative.
Everything is set for another lavish, charged, and gripping season of The Crown, but, with at least five months still to go until the show hits Netflix, you’ve got some time to kill. We thought we’d recommend seven alternatives, shows that hit the same sweet spot of high drama in regal backdrops, just to tide you over until The Crown returns…
Before she played Queen Elizabeth, Olivia Colman won herself an Oscar for her role as Queen Anne in the eccentric historical comedy The Favorite, and, if you were wowed by that performance, then you’ll be head over heels for The Great.
Tony McNamara, writer of The Favorite, created the show, which stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult and is an acerbic look at the rise of Catherine the Great and her relationship with the dreadful Emperor Peter III of Russia, who she is scheming to remove from power.
An eccentric, slightly madcap, but utterly compelling take, both seasons of this drama are well worth investing your time in.
Where to stream it: Hulu (US), Prime Video (UK)
Before The Crown arrived with its gigantic scale and just as gigantic budget, Versailles had pushed the limit of scale and scope a year earlier.
With a budget of $30 million, making it the biggest TV show in French history, the show showed off the splendor and excess of the court of Louis XIV.
The show’s three seasons track Louis’ reign, as he decides to head off plotting noblemen by moving his court from Paris to Versailles and building a new dynasty for France.
Led by a handsome young cast, Versailles is an energetic, fizzy and dynamic show, with a pace and feel quite akin to Bridgerton (opens in new tab). It’s raunchy at times but big on high drama, which is very much The Crown’s game too.
Where to stream it: Netflix (US), Prime Video (UK)
Victoria tracks the Queen’s reign from her ascension to the throne through the birth of her many children and complex relationship with her husband, Prince Albert, as well as learning about the politics that comes with ruling in a Britain that is in the midst of a total transformation.
Less punchy than The Crown, this is more of a human drama than it is a sweeping epic, but it’s still well worth a watch.
The show, which ran for three seasons, was a huge success for British broadcaster ITV, who sold it to 146 countries around the world.
Where to stream it: Britbox (Worldwide)
The Crown has, on occasion, been accused of dialing up the drama and taking historical liberties with its subject matter. It is, after all, not a documentary.
But it has nothing on The Tudors, which set out to blow the dust off history textbooks and inject new life into the story of Henry VIII, which was already quite eventful enough to begin with.
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, a young Henry Cavill, Natalie Dormer, and Sam Neill are among the cast for the show, which has four seasons in all.
The Tudors feel less weighty than The Crown, with a soapier feel to the dialogue and the more salacious elements of Henry VIII’s reign dialed right up. But it’s very entertaining.
Where to stream it: Fubo TV (US), All4 (UK)
The White Queen/The White Princess/The Spanish Princess
US Network Starz made a series of adaptations of Phillipa Gregory’s novels, each with a starry cast and a different Royal at its center.
The first is The White Queen, which stars Rebecca Ferguson, Amanda Hale, and Faye Marsay. That story is set amid the Wars of the Roses, where the grand houses of York and Lancaster compete for the English throne. It follows three women, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville, who try to work behind the scenes of history to gain power for their houses.
The second is The White Princess, which stars Jodie Comer. This eight-parter looks at the marriage between Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. While the union effectively ended the War of the Roses, bitterness lingered and plotting continued apace, all of which is explored in this drama.
Finally, the story of Catherine of Aragon is explored in The Spanish Princess. Charlotte Hope plays Catherine, the princess who would first be married to Henry VIII’s brother Arthur before his untimely death, before she then wed Henry. The series explores the machinations behind the matches and how she was so determined to maintain an alliance with England to keep Spain safe.
Heightened, stylish and full of great performances, each of these lavish adaptations captures the page-turning intrigue of Gregory’s novels wonderfully and are all well-worth your time.
Where to stream them: Prime Video (US), Prime Video via Starz Channel (UK)