Netflix's 'The Crown' Finishes Season 4 Production Early Amid Coronavirus Fears

The Crown fans got a bit of good news Thursday. While many shows are being put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, the critically acclaimed Netflix series finished production on Season 4 early so it could be released on time later this year. This is the penultimate season for the show, which tracks the lives of the British royal family from Queen Elizabeth II's wedding to Prince Philip to today.

The U.K.-based production was already nearing the end of filming when other producers and networks started shutting down shows, reports Entertainment Weekly. Rather than completely stop, filming on The Crown sped up so it could finish a few days earlier than planned. This means the season should be up on Netflix before the end of the year.

It helps that The Crown has an incredibly talented and experienced cast in front of the camera. This season sees the return of Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip. Helena Bonham Carter returned as Princess Margaret, Erin Doherty stars as Princess Anne and Josh O'Connor plays Prince Charles. Emma Corrin (Pennyworth) joined the series as the late Princess Diana.

Back in January, Netflix announced The Crown would be ending with its fifth season. Creator and showrunner Peter Morgan initially hoped the show would run six seasons, which would have given two seasons to each actress playing Queen Elizabeth II.

"At the outset I had imagined The Crown running for six seasons but now that we have begun work on the stories for season five it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop," Morgan said. "I'm grateful to Netflix and Sony for supporting me in this decision."

Morgan cast Imelda Staunton as the queen for the final season. Staunton earned an Oscar nomination for the 2004 film Vera Drake and earned an Emmy nomination for playing Alfred Hitchcock's wife Alma in The Girl. For many though, she is best known for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films and Maud Bagshaw in the Downton Abbey movie.

"I have loved watching The Crown from the very start," Staunton said in January. "As an actor it was a joy to see how both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman brought something special and unique to Peter Morgan's scripts. I am genuinely honoured to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking The Crown to its conclusion."

The Crown won three Golden Globes, including Best Television Series - Drama in 2017. Claire Foy, who played Elizabeth in the first two seasons, won a Golden Globe in 2017, while Colman picked up the show's third earlier this year. The series also won five Emmys in 2018, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Foy and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Stephen Daldry.

The first three seasons of The Crown are available to stream on Netflix.

Photo credit: Netflix