Award winning actress Claire Foy has spoken out about the controversy surrounding the gender pay gap in the hit series The Crown.
Fans of the Netflix show were outraged when it was revealed by producers that Ms Foy, who played the lead role of Queen Elizabeth II, was paid less than her male co-star Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip.
“I’m surprised because I’m at the centre of it, and anything that I’m at the centre of like that is very, very odd, and feels very, very out of the ordinary,” Ms Foy told Entertainment Weekly.
“But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama.
“I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’
“But I know Matt feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the centre [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”
The producers of the show justified paying Mr Smith more because he was had a well-known reputation in the industry, having previously starred in Doctor Who.
As news of the controversy spread, a petition was started to encourage Mr Smith to donate the difference between his salary and Foy’s to the Time’s Up movement, which has worked to shine a light on sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Since then, the producers have apologised for the pay disparity.
“We want to apologise to both Claire Foy and Matt Smith, both brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own,” producers at Left Bank Pictures said in a statement.
“As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries.
“The actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.
“We have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate.
“As a company policy, we are engaged in conversations with ERA 50:50 and going forward are keen to talk to Time’s Up UK – organisations which are working to ensure women have a voice.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at employee advocacy firm Discrimination Claims, said the makers of The Crown have inadvertently upset a lot of fans of the show.
“You can understand Matt Smith being paid a bit more for the first series, because he was a well-known name, but considering how successful the show was, you would have thought Claire Foy deserved a pay rise for series two,” he said.
“I bet the producers had no idea how much of a storm they would create by revealing their actors were paid differently – but it just goes to show that gender pay gaps are becoming less acceptable to the public who rightly believe the same day’s work should get the same day’s pay, regardless of your genitals.”
Left Bank Pictures has now confirmed that Olivia Colman, who will play Queen Elizabeth II in series three of The Crown, will be paid the same as her yet to be announced male co-star who will play Prince Philip.
If you believe you are being discriminated against on the basis of sex or gender, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice about your options.