Lesley Manville has been cast as Princess Margaret in The Crown.
The actress, 64, will be taking the reins from current star Helena Bonham Carter for the fifth and final series of the Netflix hit, it was announced on Thursday.
The star joins Imelda Staunton in the line-up, who has been cast as Queen Elizabeth II in the hit.
Congrats! Lesley Manville has been cast as Princess Margaret (right in 1966) for the fifth and final season ofThe Crown
Lesley is believed to have been producers first choice for the role, is set to play the Queen’s younger sister during one of the ‘darkest periods of her life’.
Confirming the news in a statement, she said: ‘I could not be happier to be playing Princess Margaret. The baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses and I really don’t want to let the side down.
‘Furthermore, to play siblings with my dear friend Imelda Staunton will be nothing short of a complete joy.’
The role has been played by Helena for season three and upcoming season four, and was taken on by Vanessa Kirby in season one and two.
Portrayal: The star, who is believed to have been producers first choice for the role, is set to play the Queen’s younger sister during one of the ‘darkest periods of her life’ (pictured 1995)
A source told The Sun: ‘Lesley is hugely respected by the creators of The Crown and was their first choice to play Princess Margaret this time.
‘They wanted a star who could tackle the difficult role of a royal entering one of the darkest periods of her life, when the Windsors faced endless scandals and she was dogged by ill health.
‘That’s why Lesley was one of the first actors they approached to join the new cast, and remains one of the few who has fully committed to The Crown.
Formidable: Lesley said, ‘the baton is being passed on from two formidable actresses’. The role was played by Helena (left) for season three and four, and Vanessa Kirby in season one and two
The insider revealed that several A-list actors are currently in the running to be signed for the fifth series, but only Lesley and Imelda have signed so far.
Lesley, who recently played the lead in BBC sitcom Mum, has previously starred in Vera Drake and Maleficent alongside Imelda.
The role of Princess Margaret was first taken on by Vanessa Kirby, who portrayed the Royal in her twenties during her love affair with Peter Townsend.
Lined up: Several A-list actors are currently in the running to be signed for the fifth series, but only Lesley and Imelda Staunton have signed so far (pictured in February 2020)
It is believed that the final instalment of the royal drama will pick up in the 1990s when Princess Margaret was 60.
Helena, who has won critical acclaim for her characterisation Princess Margaret, recently admitted bosses thought she was ‘insulting’ them when she didn’t immediately agree to the part.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said: ‘With Margaret, I was very conscious that I was inheriting a hit. I was conscious that Vanessa [Kirby] had just won a BAFTA. At the beginning, the first two weeks, everyone was terrified. Then you relax.
‘But the other thing was I have to see a script and have to respond to the words. People were shocked that I wouldn’t just take it.
‘I think [creator Peter] Morgan thought I was insulting them, and I wasn’t. I just needed to know whether I could do it.’
However, Helena agreed to do the show after she was sent the script for the last episode of the series where she felt she ‘connected’ with Margaret.
The film star added that she took so long to say yes, not because of a lack of faith in the project, but because of a lack of faith in herself.
Helena has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the series and said she goes to ‘extreme’ lengths in order to get into character.
Unsure: The actress plays the royal in series three and four of the hit Netflix drama but she was initially apprehensive about taking on the part