dukey the crown

Who exactly was Dukey from The Crown – and why was he against the Panorama interview?

He thought the BBC was ‘too left-wing’

The formidable, yet ageing, presence of Dukey was truly felt in The Crown season five, episode eight. In the 1990s, the BBC wanted to reinvent itself as a perfect channel, balancing education with edge. It wanted to do more than just celebrate the royals; but challenge them, make its viewers question whether they actually wanted a monarchy and if not, why not? Dukey, the Chairman at the time, had a very personal relationship with the Royal Family, and this isn’t what he wanted at all.

In The Crown, we see Dukey’s pain as the Director General tells him that, instead of commissioning a celebratory doc about the Queen, he’d given the green-light to Martin Bashir’s explosive Panorama interview with Princess Diana. After it airs, Dukey tries to resign from the BBC with immediate effect – but the Queen won’t let him.

The question is – was any of this true? Was Dukey actually friends with the Queen, and did he really try to resign from the BBC after Diana’s interview?

dukey the crown

Photo via Netflix

It’s probably best we refer to him as Dukey throughout this piece because his real name – Marmaduke Hussey, Baron Hussey of North Bradley – is a bit of a mouthful. Throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, Dukey was the chairman of the Associated Press. He then went on to become a Chief Exec of The Times, until 1986.

The Baron finally became the Chairman of the BBC in 1986, after the former chairman, Stuart Young, died. It’s probably an understatement to say that Dukey was a massive tory and, within his first three months on the job, he forced Director General Alasdair Milne’s resignation because, reportedly, Margaret Thatcher believed the BBC was too biased towards the left.

By 1995, Dukey had already fallen out with the new DG, John Birt, for commissioning Panorama’s An Interview with HRH the Princess of Wales. There’s a reason for this. The chairman’s wife, Lady Susan, was a senior Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen, essentially one of her closest friends.


Photo via Netflix

Dukey didn’t end up resigning after the Panorama documentary aired but, he did resign from the role a year later. One of the main reasons was, reportedly, because of his fallout with John Birt. He died in 2006, at the age of 83.

The Crown season five is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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Featured image via Netflix.