The Crown ridiculed: Bob Hawke did not call the Queen a pig, or a pom – he was better than that

Naaman Zhou
·5-min read

Australians watching The Crown have ridiculed the British series’ depiction of former prime minister Bob Hawke, after the ABC posted real footage of an interview with Hawke before the 1983 royal tour of Australian and New Zealand.

Episode six of the Netflix series’ fourth season, titled Terra Nullius, follows Prince Charles and Princess Diana on the tour. It opens with Hawke, played by Australian actor Richard Roxburgh, appearing on the ABC’s Four Corners program in February 1983.

Roxburgh has drawn plaudits for his performance – he previously played Hawke in a 2010 telemovie – but the show’s writers were panned after the released archival footage of Hawke’s appearance.

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Viewers pointed out that the real footage, and the real Hawke, were simply better than that dramatised by one of the world’s most expensive TV series.

Australians said The Crown’s script was unsubtle and inaccurate, and fabricated quotes to make Hawke appear much more agitated about the Queen and the royal visit than he was.

The real Hawke said the republic was not “a matter of great importance”, compared with poverty and disadvantage.

On The Crown, the Hawke character says: “I don’t think we’ll be talking about kings or monarchy here in Australia much longer – I think we’re past that now. I think we’re a bit more mature.”

The real Hawke said: “I don’t think we’ll be talking about kings in Australia for ever more ... we would be better off as a republic. But I don’t think it’s a matter of great importance.

“The thing that concerns me is the condition of men and women out there in Australia. Particularly the people in poverty, the disadvantaged. If we became a republic tomorrow, it wouldn’t improve their condition one iota.”

Hawke’s response about poverty and disadvantage was cut from the Crown version and replaced with invented lines in which he calls the Queen “a pom”.

The fictional Hawke tells the audience, to cheers and laughs: “The desire is simply to have a head of state that embodies and represents Australia’s values and traditions. A head of state that looks like us, sounds like us, thinks like us …[as opposed to] a pom.”

Hawke actually said: “I think in terms of being our own country, the time will come when Australians prefer a republic. I don’t think it is the number one issue on the agenda.”

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Four Corners especially took issue with a fictional Hawke line jokingly comparing the Queen to a pig.

On The Crown, Hawke tells the crowd: “[The royal family are] for all their good intentions, a different breed. You wouldn’t put a pig in charge of a herd of prime beef cattle.”

Viewers pointed out that the real Hawke interview was more eloquent, measured and complex than that on the show.

The Crown has also previously been mocked for its visual representation of Australia. Scenes in Australia were filmed in Spain. One moment, supposedly of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, was particularly highlighted as looking just like a hotel room above Malaga.

The show’s creator, Peter Morgan, has been open about the artistic licence taken on the show.

A scene where Diana calls Uluru “Ayers Dock” also never happened.

The Crown’s latest season has also been criticised for “fake history” in relation to British events, including an invented scene where Lord Mountbatten, the uncle of Prince Philip, wrote a heartfelt letter to Prince Charles on the day Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb.

For what it is worth, the actor who plays Charles, Josh O’Connor, has publicly stated that he is a republican.