From the beginning, The Crown planned to cover six decades of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, from her ascension to the throne in 1952 through to the new century. But not all decades of the Queen's rule have been equally riveting. Season 1 had the luck of Winston Churchill's final years as Prime Minister to carry what was basically a decade of a young Elizabeth finding her feet as a monarch. Season 2 was far more interesting, both personally because of the queen's decision to have two more children, and professionally, as she oversaw the bulk of the British Empire's collapse, and guided those former properties into "Commonwealths."
Season 3 does have its points of interest to come, including Charles' investiture and the disastrous choice on the part of his elders to block him from marrying Camilla. But in truth, most viewers will see this year as gearing up for the main event of Olivia Colman's two-season reign: The 1980s, in which Elizabeth's life was dominated by two women on opposite ends of the spectrum.
On the one side, there is Diana Spencer, who parlayed her princess feminity into popularity eclipsing that of the Crown, in a revenge play for the ages over how she was treated by both Charles and his family. She was viewed by many as the rightful person to replace the aging Elizabeth, and as the U.K.'s "real Queen." On the other, there is Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, the first female Prime Minister, and a politician who lead a coalition including right-wing radicals who wanted to overthrow the monarchy. She was also viewed by many as the rightful person to replace the aging Elizabeth, and as the U.K.'s "real Queen."
The latter just got far more exciting with the announcement that Gillian Anderson is in talks to take on the role of Thatcher. The actress is known for everything from The X-Files to American Gods over here to The Fall and Sex Education over there. Though Anderson is originally American born, she moved to the U.K. years ago, and her accent is nowadays flawless. Most fans hear it and assume she must have been a British subject the whole time.
Netflix has not officially confirmed this particular piece of casting news, which was initially broken over the weekend by The Sunday Times. According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources say this is because the deal, which has been in the works since last spring, has not officially closed yet. According to the report:
The third season will focus on "the Wilson era," aka the 1964-1970 and 1974-1976 terms of Prime Minister Howard Wilson, and the fourth will focus on Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana. The drama, whose sophomore run wrapped in December 2017, has already been renewed for seasons three and four. Season three is expected to air sometime in 2019. It's unclear if Thatcher will appear in both season three and season four.
While Diana's casting is still a ways off (if she appears in Season 3 it won't be until the very end), Thatcher was already making waves by the early to mid-1970s, which for the coming Season 3 will be about the mid-way point. Though it is not clear if Anderson will be in Season 3, it would not be surprising if her ascendancy to Number 10 is a subplot hanging in the background, with a cameo appearance in Parliament or two.
As for her role in Season 4, neither Elizabeth nor Thatcher ever spoke of the details of their relationship, though Thatcher famously said of the rumors that they did not get along: “Stories of clashes between two powerful women were just too good not to make up. If The Crown goes along with such stories remains to be seen. However the show tackles it, the prospect of Colman vs. Anderson is juicy enough that any disagreement to come will play second fiddle.
The Crown Season 3 is expected to debut sometime in 2019.