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‘I loved Big Phil!’ Matt Smith says The Crown helped people to ’empathise’ with the royal family – and reveals Prince Harry called him ‘grandad’ after he played ‘extraordinary’ Prince Philip


Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip in The Crown, has suggested the long-running series may have helped people empathise with the royal family.  

Speaking in an interview on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the actor, 41, said he loved playing ‘Big Phil’ and questioned whether the programme has helped people to see the monarchy in a new, modern light. 

The Crown, which spanned six series, told the story of perhaps of one of the greatest reigns – if not the longest – of all times, that of the late Elizabeth II.

Young Elizabeth, who started as a princess, was played by Clare Foy in season one, opposite Smith who took on the role of Prince Philip – for whom he had his own affectionate moniker. 

‘I loved Big Phil,’ he said of the part, during an interview with the BBC journalist about his experience of the show.

Despite being cast in such a prestigious part, it wasn’t all smooth sailing though.

Clare Foy (pictured, centred) plays Queen Elizabeth II in series one of The Crown, where Matt Smith (pictured, right) played Prince Philip

Clare Foy (pictured, centred) plays Queen Elizabeth II in series one of The Crown, where Matt Smith (pictured, right) played Prince Philip

 As Matt admits, as despite the massive scale of the role, not everyone was impressed with his winning the part.

‘I told my Grandad that I’d got that part and he said: “Bloody hell, you’re not playing that berk”,’ Matt revealed.

‘He couldn’t bear it. My granddad couldn’t bear it. He wasn’t into the royal family but I just loved him.’

As with many parts, as the actor learnt more about the character, he started to like him more. 

He said: ‘All of the research I did, I thought “what an extraordinary, forward-thinking, deeply funny, irascible, brilliant man.’

Matt also shared another amusing anecdote that has arisen from filming the programme – and it relates to Prince Harry.

The actor may have scooped critical acclaim and an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the famously down-to-Earth royal, but he also earned approval from at least one member of The Firm.

While admitting that it ‘isn’t as grand as it sounds’, Matt reveals he met Harry once at polo.    

Matt Smith (pictured) being interviewed by the BBC, during which he spoke about The Crown, revealing he called his character Prince Philip 'Big Philip'

Matt Smith (pictured) being interviewed by the BBC, during which he spoke about The Crown, revealing he called his character Prince Philip ‘Big Philip’

‘He was like “alright, grandad”,’ said Matt.

‘I was like “alright mate!”‘

It’s not confirmed whether Harry watched every episode of the show, but it is reported that he watched the ones with Matt Smith in them.

Matt once told the TODAY show: ‘[Harry’ watched the show! Well, I can’t claim to know if he watches it currently, but he watched a bit of it then.’

Interviewer Laura Kuenssberg asked if it was true that the late  monarch had watched it on a projector.

Answering somewhat carefully, Matt said he had also hear that, but said it may have been an ‘old wives’ tale’. 

The actor (pictured left) also spoke about Doctor Who, a role it is known he had a great fondness for when he played it between 2010 and s013. But would but he return? 'Never say never'.

The actor (pictured left) also spoke about Doctor Who, a role it is known he had a great fondness for when he played it between 2010 and s013. But would but he return? ‘Never say never’.

But, he added, such stories ‘generated a level of gossip around them that they probably don’t want but – at the same notion without being too presumptuous about it. Has it [The Crown] created a degree of intrigue about them as well? Has it modernised them? Has it helped people empathise with them?’

During the interview, Matt also spoke about Doctor Who.

He played the eleventh Doctor between 2010 and 2013.

It is no secret that the thespian has a fondness for the character, and he hasn’t ruled out the return of ever returning to the small screen to play the timelord in a special.

When asked about it, his enigmatic response was: ‘Never say never.’



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