Diana’s brother says he rejected The Crown’s request to film at family estate

The fifth series of the lavish royal drama is due to air in November 2022.
Diana’s brother says he rejected The Crown’s request to film at family estate

By Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Earl Spencer has said he rejected The Crown’s request to film at his family home of Althorp.

The forthcoming fifth series of the royal Netflix drama stars Elizabeth Debicki as his late sister, Princess Diana, and will reportedly dramatise her headline-making 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir as well as other key events in her later life.

Earlier this year, a report by Lord Dyson concluded the BBC covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by Bashir to secure the bombshell interview and led to a call from the Duke of Cambridge for it never to be aired again.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast at his family estate in West Northamptonshire, Earl Spencer said he had declined when producers of The Crown asked to film on the site.

The Crown season five
Elizabeth Debicki as Diana (Netflix/PA)

He said: “They applied. They wanted to shoot here. But I don’t really do that stuff.

“Actually, to be honest, I don’t watch The Crown so I just said: ‘Thank you but no thank you.’”

In May, Lord Dyson’s report into Diana’s Panorama interview concluded Bashir was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines when he faked bank statements and showed them to Earl Spencer to gain access to the princess for the interview.

Earl Spencer said there remains “a long way to go” with the investigation into the events surrounding the programme and did not rule out legal action.

He said: “Lord Dyson did a very good job. His brief was tiny. It was to look at a very specific area and there is still so much more to look at in the broader terms of who was responsible for what.

“How did it come to this? Did documents get hidden from view? All sorts of really important stuff which is yet to come out.

“So I see the Lord Dyson report as a very welcome development but there is still a long way to go with this.”

He said it is clear to him “there are certain people who were in the BBC who have behaved in a way that is truly abysmal and possibly criminal”.

Asked how far he would take his investigation, he said: “That is the question and I have got people looking at that, and we will see.

Lord Dyson – Bashir report
Martin Bashir (Ian West/PA)

“It is not going to end now. I am not saying that as some ugly threat. It just can’t stop now as there is still more to come out.”

Speaking about a potential private legal case, he added: “Everything is possible at this stage. I just wouldn’t want to box myself into a corner here.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Today’s BBC has aimed to be as open and transparent as possible about the events of 25 years ago. We held an independent, judge-led investigation which was concluded within six months and, separately, BBC News commissioned an edition of Panorama in which journalists robustly investigated their own employer.

“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we made a full and unconditional apology the day Lord Dyson’s report was published.”

The fifth series of The Crown, due to air in November 2022, will see Dominic West star as the Prince of Wales opposite Debicki as Diana.

The Wire star West takes over the role of Charles from Josh O’Connor, while The Night Manager actress Debicki will replace Emma Corrin.

Imelda Staunton will take over the role of the Queen from Olivia Colman, while Jonathan Pryce will replace Tobias Menzies as the Duke of Edinburgh and Lesley Manville will take on Princess Margaret, following in the footsteps of Helena Bonham Carter.

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