The Crown casts Imelda Staunton, will end after season 5

Olivia Colman's royal successor has been named: Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown's fifth and final season...

Imelda Staunton in Downton Abbey the movie
Photo: Carnival

Toot the royal horn and unfurl the ermine carpet! Glossy Netflix period drama The Crown has two announcements.

The first is that Vera Drake and Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix actor Imelda Staunton is next in line to the throne and will be taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Olivia Colman for season five.

Staunton, recently seen rubbing shoulders with royalty as Queen Mary’s lady-in-waiting in the Downton Abbey movie, will pick up the role for the 1980s onwards. (Season four includes scenes filmed up to at least 1979, so the follow-up will have its feet firmly in the decade of Thatcher, the miners’ strikes, Charles and Di, and Banarama). 

Next up, contrary to the original plan to split the series into three two-season chunks, each with a newly aged-up cast, it’s been confirmed that season five will be the final instalment. Netflix head Ted Sarandos had previously announced plans for the royal drama to run for six seasons in total. 

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That’s all changed now, according to this Tweet from the show’s official Netflix account:

Expect creator Peter Morgan to be quizzed at length for the reason the show is being cut short. We’ll bring you more news on the fifth and final season when it arrives.

Staunton was Oscar-nominated for her lead role in Mike Leigh’s 2004 film Vera Drake, about a London woman who performed abortions for underprivileged women before the practice was legalised in England. She’ll also be memorable to a generation as the cutesy but cruel Dolores Umbridge, Professor of Defence Against The Dark Arts during Harry Potter’s fifth year at Hogwarts. And if you’ve not seen terrific British film Pride either, that’s another one of hers to look out for.

Read our spoiler-free review of The Crown season three here. And here are all the new British dramas on their way in 2020