The producers of Netflix hit series The Crown have released a statement regarding the pay gap between its stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith.

Last week, it emerged that Smith had been paid more than Foy on the show's two seasons, in spite of her being the lead character. They said that this was “due to his 'Doctor Who' fame, but that they would rectify that for the future.”

The news understandably caused a great deal of outrage, and there was even a petition started to try and convince Smith to donate the difference between his pay cheque and Foy’s to the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund (akin to what Mark Wahlberg did following the controversy between his and co-star Michelle Williams’ pay gap for All the Money in the World reshoots).

Left Bank pictures, the producers of The Crown, have since expressed that they are sorry to both stars of the show.

In a statement to Variety, the production company said: “We want to apologize to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the center of a media storm this week through no fault of their own.

“Claire and Matt are incredibly gifted actors who, along with the wider cast on ‘The Crown’ have worked tirelessly to bring our characters to life with compassion and integrity.”

In what would seem to be in response to the petition started over Smith’s pay, Left Bank added: “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.”

Left Bank also stated: “We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes.”