Television

TV Critic’s Corner

‘The Crown’ chooses its heir to the throne

Olivia Colman (pictured in “Broadchurch”) will take over the lead role of Queen Elizabeth II on “The Crown” in season three and is expected to remain for season four.
Colin Hutton
Olivia Colman (pictured in “Broadchurch”) will take over the lead role of Queen Elizabeth II on “The Crown” in season three and is expected to remain for season four.

One of the best shows of 2016 was “The Crown,” a Netflix series about Queen Elizabeth II. I know, Queen Elizabeth, now 91, appears to be the antithesis of drama, but that didn’t keep the first season from being thoroughly compelling. Each season — six are expected in all — will chronicle a decade or so of her life.

The series returns for season two on Dec. 8 with Claire Foy once again in the lead role. Foy gives us a young queen learning about the etiquette she must adhere to and making sacrifices, personal and familial, for the job. But a different actress will take over the lead role for season three, as Elizabeth ages, a wise decision by show creator Peter Morgan since aging makeup and prosthetics can become irritating over long periods of viewing time.

And that actress will be Olivia Colman, which is great news. Colman has become a favorite of mine in recent years, for her work on “Broadchurch” as the locally based detective, on “Fleabag” as the horrid stepmother, and on “The Night Manager” as the intelligence officer going after Hugh Laurie’s character. She is expected to play Elizabeth for seasons three and four, after season two covers the late 1950s to the mid-1960s with Michael C. Hall as President John F. Kennedy.

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No word yet on who will replace Matt Smith as Prince Philip.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.