September 12, 2016 6:17 AM EDT

The British royal family has been fodder for all manner of entertainment, but Netflix’s ambitious new show The Crown, premiering Nov. 4, aims to be the first to dramatize Queen Elizabeth II’s life in full. The series was budgeted at an estimated $156 million and will span five seasons, one for each decade of the Queen’s reign. “What effect does it have on a woman to suddenly become two people, Elizabeth Windsor and Elizabeth Regina?” asks Peter Morgan, the series’ Oscar-nominated creator. The show suggests, for example, that her coronation adversely affected her marriage. “She was only 25,” Morgan says. “Philip was forced to give up his naval career and become her consort. That led to all sorts of tensions.”

This is not Morgan’s first go-round with Elizabeth: he also wrote the 2006 film The Queen and the 2013 play The Audience, both starring Helen Mirren as the monarch. This time, it’s Claire Foy playing a younger Elizabeth. But as with his past projects, The Crown required heavy research. “Other showrunners have writers’ rooms,” says Morgan. “I have a researchers’ room.” Seven people were hired to dig up material and interview former palace staff. But Morgan doesn’t communicate directly with the royal family: “They’re very aware of the project, but the palace and I exist in a state of respectful distance from one another.”





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This appears in the September 12, 2016 issue of TIME.

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