Why won’t Margaret Thatcher be in The Crown season 5 and who will take over her role?

Margaret Thatcher in The Crown was a memorable performance—but will she be back in season 5?

Margaret Thatcher in The Crown played by Gillian Anderson
(Image credit: Des Willie/Netflix)

Margaret Thatcher in The Crown often stole the show in season 4, so why won’t she be back in season 5 and who will take over the role of Prime Minister?

Margaret Thatcher in The Crown season 4 was someone many royal fans might not have expected to take the limelight, but talented actor Gillian Anderson will now forever be known for her unforgettable portrayal of the former Prime Minister. Having received praise for her performance, Gillian has previously revealed how she got into character. Not only that, but she has also shared the secret behind her iconic “Thatcher face” in the Netflix show, explaining that it was often the simplest of techniques that helped her to capture Margaret's mannerisms correctly. 

Whilst some people might still be wondering how accurate The Crown really is as we await further The Crown season 5 cast, plot and release date details, that hasn’t stopped others from eagerly speculating about what could come next. Though it seems that many will be left disappointed as it’s thought that despite Gillian’s stellar performance, season 4 will be the last we see of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.

But why won’t Margaret Thatcher be in The Crown season 5 and who is replacing her?

Why won’t Margaret Thatcher be in The Crown season 5? 

Though fans are prepared to see a new actor take over as Princess Diana in The Crown and are expecting to see a new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown season 5 too, Margaret Thatcher is not expected to join them for a very simple reason: Margaret Thatcher is no longer Prime Minister. In the closing stages of The Crown season 4 we saw Margaret officially resign her post in 1990 after 11 years in power. This means that despite Gillian Anderson’s skilled portrayal of such a prominent political figure, Margaret will no longer be central to The Crown’s upcoming storylines. 

Margaret Thatcher in The Crown

(Image credit: Des Willie/Netflix)

Throughout the series fans have been bowled over by The Crown’s filming locations, including the stunning Wrotham Park which was apparently used as the private audience room where Queen Elizabeth met her various Prime Ministers. With the resignation of Margaret Thatcher it seems as though we will soon be seeing Her Majesty meet Margaret’s predecessor here instead. 

Though viewers could potentially get to see Gillian return as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown in the form of a flashback, it’s generally thought unlikely that she will return in any great capacity in The Crown seasons 5 or 6. 

Who will be Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher in The Crown season 5?

Whilst it might be hard to imagine another Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher in The Crown given Gillian Anderson’s impactful performance, in real-life Margaret was succeeded by John Major. The conservative politician served in this role until spring 1997 and was Prime Minister during one of the most challenging periods for the Royal Family, before later being succeeded by Tony Blair. In The Crown, the ending of one Prime Minister's time in office and the rise of their successor has often been depicted within a single season. 

Former British Prime Minister John Major during the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 08, 2020 in London, England

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In contrast, Margaret Thatcher's replacement was not yet introduced on-screen by the end of season 4. If this is an indication of what is to come, it could be that The Crown season 5 chooses to focus only on John Major’s time as Prime Minister, instead waiting to show Tony Blair’s Premiership until season 6.

Though rumors briefly circulated that Fleabag star Andrew Scott was being "lined up" to play Tony Blair, these claims were not confirmed and there has been no official word yet on who has been cast as either Tony or John Major in the Netflix drama. In the meantime, fans will have to remain patiently waiting for an announcement.

What storylines could be in store for the Prime Minister following Margaret Thatcher in The Crown? 

It’s understood that The Crown season 5 has yet to start filming and as a result it’s not been confirmed exactly what time period or storylines the upcoming season might cover. However, with season 4’s end point in mind, some have speculated that The Crown season 5 will pick up where the preceding season ended in 1990 and move forward from there. The early 1990s was a period of economic recession for the country and John Major’s time as Prime Minister also saw him withdraw the pound from the European Exchange rate in 1992—an event that became known as Black Wednesday and lead to his opinion ratings dropping considerably. 

Though on a more personal level for the Queen, The Crown season 5 could also cover each of the sad events that took place in her “annus horribilis” aka “horrible year”, which saw three of her children’s marriages break down. 

Queen Elizabeth II, attends the Trooping The Colour Ceremony on June 13, 1992 in London, United Kingdom

(Image credit: Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)

This included Princess Anne’s divorce, Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s separation and is thought to have been the year that Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York separated too. It was Prime Minister John Major that announced the formal separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Addressing the House of Commons, John went on to read out the official statement from Buckingham Palace, which referred to the separation as being a decision Prince Charles and Princess Diana made “amicably”.

“I am sure that I speak for the whole House–and millions beyond it–in offering our support to both the Prince and Princess of Wales. I am also sure that the House will sympathise with the wish that they should both be afforded a degree of privacy,” John later declared.

The Prince And Princess Of Wales During A Visit To Ottawa In Canada

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

With the royal couple’s separation expected to be shown in either The Crown season 5 or 6, depending on how much of the time period is fitted into each series, fans could see John Major make this important address in the show. John Major went on to be succeeded in his role in May 1997 by Tony Blair, who was serving as Prime Minister when Princess Diana tragically passed away in August. 

Though John remained prominent and following her death, he was appointed a special guardian to Princes William and Harry with responsibility for legal and administrative matters.

The Prime Minister of GB arrives at Westminister Abbey for the Funeral Service of Princess Diana

(Image credit: Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

So whilst it’s not yet clear exactly what time period will be covered in The Crown seasons 5 and 6, it seems clear that by the time the show reaches its conclusion, we will have seen both John Major and Tony Blair take prominent roles in the show following Margaret Thatcher's resignation. 

Until then, there's time to catch up on all the dramatic previous seasons as well as the recent Kate and William anniversary documentary ahead of The Crown season 5! 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.