This Sceptred Isle

Kenneth Branagh is on course to slap on a goofy wig for This Sceptred Isle, a new five-part drama that will see the actor playing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The series, which will air on Sky, comes from The Trip series director Michael Winterbottom, and “will chart the events surrounding the U.K. Prime Minister, the government, and the country in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic.” Winterbottom will direct the entire series from a script he co-wrote with Kieron Quirke.

News of This Sceptred Isle comes from Deadline, which reports the five-part series “will trace the impact on Britain from the pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses, and doctors as they worked to contain and overcome the virus. It is based on the first-hand testimony of people including those from Number 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and from hospitals and care homes across the country.”

Kenneth Branagh, who was recently seen hamming it up in Tenet, is set to play UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and that’s the only casting news available right now. In any case, it sounds like exactly the sort of role Branagh will sink his teeth into, and it also means we’ll soon be getting very amusing images of Branagh sporting Johnson’s consistently unkempt hair, and really, isn’t that what matters most?

Regarding the project, director Michael Winterbottom said: “The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever of the importance of community. Our series weaves together countless true stories – from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country – chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus.”

And Sky UK Managing Director of Content, Zai Bennett said: “COVID-19 has presented once-in-a-generation challenges to the world, and in the UK the resilience and fortitude of the public over the past year has been nothing short of extraordinary. Portraying NHS staff and key workers on the frontlines of the extraordinary fight, to those in government facing unprecedented challenges; Michael Winterbottom has a clear and compelling vision in telling this remarkable story. The incredible creative talent Fremantle have assembled including the central performance from Kenneth Branagh will make This Sceptred Isle a drama we are proud to be part of telling.”

Winterbottom co-wrote the script for the series with Kieron Quirke. Winterbottom will also executive produce, alongside Richard Brown. Melissa Parmenter, Josh Hyams, and Anthony Wilcox are producing while Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, will serve as a consultant. Shooting will start this year with a premiere likely for autumn 2022.

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