Australian broadcaster ABC’s flagship current affairs show 4 Corners has set the record straight about a scene in Season 4 of The Crown involving the country’s former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Episode six, Terra Nullius, opens with Hawke — played by Richard Roxburgh — being interviewed at ABC’s studios in 1983 about welcoming Prince Charles and Princess Diana to the Commonwealth nation.
During the exchange, The Crown writer Peter Morgan quotes Hawke 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.”
But 4 Corners pointed out that Hawke never uttered these words. “While we’re loving the fact that you’ve featured us in @TheCrownNetflix, we’re in the business of facts and there are a few things we want to clear up,” the show tweeted. “While we’ve enjoyed your creative license, Hawke did not call the Queen a pig on our show.”
(4/4) And while we’ve enjoyed your creative license, Hawke did not call the Queen a pig on our show and say, "You wouldn't put a pig in charge of a herd of prime beef cattle, even if it does look good in twin set and pearls." Here's what he really said. Thnx again @netflix! pic.twitter.com/0JY8sEOB5C
— 4corners (@4corners) November 25, 2020
The current affairs program also pointed out that the interview took place on February 12, not February 26, as stated in a caption on The Crown. The conversation also took place in Melbourne, not in Canberra, 4 Corners added. As you can see in the clip above, however, Hawke did call Prince Charles a “nice young bloke” — a line also carried in The Crown.
ABC’s intervention is just the latest example of The Crown’s accuracy being questioned this year. The show is first and foremost a dramatized version of events, but given the profile of those depicted and the reputation of The Crown, the show’s creative license has been stirred strong feelings.
Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has been among those to raise concerns about the royal drama. “Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson. Well, they haven’t,” he told ITV over the weekend. “It is very hard, there is a lot of conjecture and a lot of invention, isn’t there? You can hang it on fact but the bits in between are not fact.”
Morgan defended his storylines after questions about a scene in which Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) writes a letter to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) saying he is in danger of bringing “ruin and disappointment” to the family over his dalliances with Camilla Parker Bowles. There is, however, no record of the letter.
“I think everything that’s in that letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe, based on everything I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to, that represents his view,” Morgan told the show’s official podcast. “We will never know if it was put into a letter, and we will never know if Charles got that letter before or after Mountbatten’s death, but in this particular drama, this is how I decided to deal with it.”