When fiction is based on reality, it can be hard to distinguish the facts from the creative licence.
Such discrepancies have been pretty pronounced in the latest season of The Crown, the Netflix show which covers historical events during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Season 4 in particular has been subject to a huge amount of discussion. It features Emma Corrin in the role of Princess Diana and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher – two figures which are firmly cemented in the British (and global) public’s memory.
The latest calling out of the depictions in The Crown is perhaps somewhat unexpected: Australian TV news show Four Corners.
The issue surrounds the sixth episode of the season, which depicts Charles and Diana’s tour of Australia in 1983.
It also features a scene in which then-prime minister of Australia Bob Hawke, played by Richard Roxburgh, is interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about the arrival of the royal couple.
In the show, Hawke is depicted as saying:
"An unelected non-Australian who lives on the other side of the world and, for all their good intentions, is a different breed. You wouldn't put a pig in charge of a herd of prime beef cattle, even if it did look good in a twinset and pearls."
To viewers, it may have sounded like the Australian PM compared the Queen to a pig, which is undeniably not a good look.
However, according to Four Corners, these words were never uttered. A tweet from the TV show’s official Twitter account included a clip of the real event, which shows Hawke saying that while welcoming the couple isn’t something he regards as “the most important thing I’m going to have to do in my first month in office”, he has met Prince Charles and finds him “a nice young bloke” but that he believes Australia would be better off as a republic.
@netflix @TheCrownNetflix @canberratimes @TroveAustralia (4/4) And while we’ve enjoyed your creative license, Hawke… https://t.co/AlSwYps5t2
This isn’t the only discrepancy that Four Corners pointed out. The Twitter thread also highlighted that the interview took place on 12 February, not the 26th, and in Melbourne, not Canberra as depicted in the show.
It’s worth noting that the tweets appear to have been sent in good humour, adding that they’re a “huge fan” and “loving the fact” that they were featured in the show.
On Twitter, the resurrection of the old footage made people nostalgic for Hawke, a Labor Party politician and “man of the people” who served as prime minister from 1983 to 1991.
@4corners @netflix @TheCrownNetflix @canberratimes @TroveAustralia How great to see #bobhawke again! What he said t… https://t.co/McqHbUDP2X
Hawke won three elections making him the third longest serving PM in the country. During his time in office, he broke all records winning a 75 per cent approval rating in 1984.
Australia is currently governed by the Liberal Party’s Scott Morrison, who has come under fire during his leadership for his reaction to the Bushfires and plan to tackle the climate crisis. However, he has been praised for his ability to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s not the first time The Crown has been called out for its lack of historical accuracy. Hugo Vickers, a royal historian and author of The Crown Dissected: An Analysis of the Netflix Series The Crown told Insider that the high production value of the show can make it hard for people to differentiate between what’s true and what isn’t.
What you have to do with The Crown is just suspend all belief about it. It's so well-filmed and lavishly produced with good actors and actresses, so it looks very convincing, but it's all totally fundamentally dishonest."
However, some viewers perceive the argument to be patronising, and highlighted that most people should be able to understand the difference between a history lesson and a TV show.
@4corners @netflix @TheCrownNetflix @canberratimes @TroveAustralia Somehow I think the people who made ‘The Crown’… https://t.co/6GawCa9DtE