Netflix filming The Crown largely in the UK
Netflix’s lavish new TV drama The Crown has filmed largely in southern England to chart the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family from the late 1940s.
The first series has now launched of a planned six-season saga that will span the second half of the 20th century at a cost reportedly in the region of £100m. Series 2 is currently in production.
Filming for the first season took place mostly on location with assistance from Creative England, but with a base at Elstree Studios in north-east London. Here standing sets were built of Buckingham Palace interiors and offices of 10 Downing Street, as well as the building’s famous front door.
“We spent four or five months scouting before filming started,” says Pat Karam, supervising location manager on The Crown, in an interview with KFTV.
“The UK is currently booming as a filming location, so to my awareness there was never a plan to base production anywhere else.
“The variety and amount of locations was one of the main challenges in terms of organising the filming schedule. It’s a TV production that operates on the scale of a big movie with multiple full-size units working at any one time.”
Lancaster House on Pall Mall in central London stood in for State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, but Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire in the east of England doubled for Westminster Abbey for scenes depicting Elizabeth’s coronation as Queen in June 1953.
Location filming also took place in Scotland – home to the Royal Family’s Balmoral Estate – and in South Africa, which stood in for Kenya, where Elizabeth was staying when she found out her father George VI had died and that she was to become Queen.
Karam adds that location scouting was ongoing throughout the production process and continues with filming for the second series.
The UK has been more viable as a high-end TV filming location since the launch of a television tax credit three years ago. Before that several major British period dramas – including The White Queen – had to double northern Europe for England as they sought cheaper production costs.
Netflix is already established as a major producer of original TV, having invested heavily in multiple seasons of its high-end political drama House of Cards – which films in Maryland.
The platform is now shifting into big-budget features, having recently spent $90m to acquire the hybrid fantasy feature Bright, which has scheduled a Los Angeles shoot. David Ayer’s feature would otherwise have sought theatrical distribution.
For more on filming in the UK see our production guide.