The British Telecommunications Network Sky has released a teaser for its upcoming show about the soon-to-be-former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The original series featuring BAFTA and Academy Award-winner Kenneth Branagh as the PM will last for 6 episodes. The channel has confirmed that it will be launched on its pay-TV Sky Atlantic (free for Sky TV subscribers) and a streaming service, NOW, on September 21. This England teaser does not confirm the release date for overseas.
This England Teaser
The uncanny resemblance between Branagh and Johnson is hard to go unnoticed. This England teaser begins with Johnson celebrating Brexit, then shows his time as the head of government, some intimate moments, the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the damning controversies, and the PM’s own battle with the virus that landed him in hospital in March 2020. The UK is one of those countries worst hit by the pandemic, a dilemma best portrayed by Branagh as he read Shakespeare in the backdrop of this eerie teaser.
The drama seems to mostly capture the on-goings inside the government halls with the country-wide condition. However, the series will also highlight how the teams of medical professionals and scientists raced against time to make sense of the outbreak. This is kind of a tribute to all those nurses, doctors, and other care workers who risked their lives to take on the initial challenge posed by the pandemic.
Originally, it was titled This Sceptred Isle, an excerpt from the John of Gaunt’s speech in William Shakespeare’s play Richard II. The series is based on first-hand evidence from 10 Downing Street members, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and the Department of Health.
Cast and Crew
Actor/director Kenneth Branagh gives a stunning look as Boris Johnson, and so do his fellow co-stars. As it can be seen from This England teaser, other political figures are also represented in the project.
TV and Film actress Ophelia Lovibond (Guardians of Galaxy and Elementary fame) plays the role of Johnson’s partner, Caroline Louise Beavan Johnson. Former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is also in the series, portrayed by Andrew Buchan (John Mercer in The Fixer series). Simon Paisley Day, who played pro-Brexit MP Douglas Carswell in Brexit: The Uncivil War, is now portraying the lead strategist behind Brexit, Dominic Cummings, in This England.
The series will be directed by Micheal Winterbottom from Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) and co-written by Kieron Quirke, known for Cuckoo (2012).
Controversies and Resignation
It is unclear from This England teaser whether the controversies surrounding Johnson’s resignation would be discussed in the series. Johnson has resigned as the Tory leader since July 2022 but is expected to stay as caretaker PM till October until the Conservative party elects a new leader. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have been competing for Johnson’s position. The premier was already under fire for poor governance and the rising cost of living in the UK when a report accused him of hosting parties at Number 10 amid the COVID-19 lockdown. His political adversaries and most of his own party members saw him as incompetent and decided to replace him with a no-confidence vote.