Former British Prime Minister John Major criticised Netflix’s popular show The Crown, calling it “damaging and malicious fiction” and a “barrel-load of nonsense”. Netflix has since defended the show as a fictional dramatisation.

Major, who served as prime minister from 1990 to 1997, addressed rumours that King Charles III, who was the Prince of Wales at the time, may have hinted that he wanted Major’s support for his mother’s abdication in a new season narrative, which surfaced in UK media on Saturday. Another narrative line is said to feature insulting comments about the Queen and the royal family between Major (played in the show by actor Jonny Lee Miller) and his wife, Norma.

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The former prime minister referred to these events as “a barrel-load of nonsense peddled for no other reason than to provide maximum – and entirely false – dramatic impact” in a statement sent to CNN on Monday.

“Sir John has not co-operated – in any way – with The Crown,” a spokesperson for Major noted in the statement that he has never been asked by them to fact-check any screenplay material for this or any other series.

“Discussions between the Monarch and Prime Minister are entirely private and – for Sir John – will always remain so. But not one of the scenes you depict are accurate – in any way whatsoever. They are fiction, pure and simple,” the spokesperson declared.

“There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II — nor was such an improbable and improper subject ever raised by the then Prince of Wales (or Sir John),” he continued.

The spokesperson clarified that “Neither Sir John nor Dame Norma have discussed the Monarchy remotely in the terms you suggest in your email,” and that “what you report as depicted in the script has never been their view, never would be their view, and never will be their view.”

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Imelda Staunton will replace Olivia Colman as the Queen in the upcoming season of The Crown, which will premiere on Netflix on November 9. Olivia Colman had the role in seasons 3 and 4. Season 5 of the show, according to Netflix, is focused on the Queen as she approaches the 40th anniversary of her accession.

A spokesperson for Netflix issued a statement in response to the backlash on Monday, saying, “The Crown has always been promoted as a drama based on historical events.”