This England director speaks about casting Sir Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in Covid drama: ‘Who else would play him?’

Michael hopes Mr Johnson is ‘flattered’ Sir Kenneth plays him (Picture: Getty/Reuters/Sky TV/ This England)

It was a no-brainer for This England director Michael Winterbottom to cast as hapless outgoing prime minister in the upcoming pandemic drama.

Fans have already been treated to trailers for the five-part series, which was previously titled This Sceptred Isle, and the actor’s performance is .

The limited series will follow Mr Johnson’s first months as the Prime Minister, delving into the start of the pandemic when the world was put on hold by the mysterious virus.

In addition to the pandemic, it will also shine a spotlight on his personal life, the complexities and aftermath of Brexit, and all of the drama that members of the public expect to take place behind closed doors in Parliament.

Speaking about This England, the 61-year-old filmmaker revealed the Dunkirk star had agreed to star in the series after reading the first draft of the script, which he co-wrote with Kieron Quirke.

He told : ‘Ken said yes. But he only had eight weeks, in March and April, so I was like, “OK, that sounds just about possible.”

Boris or Kenneth?! (Picture: Sky)

‘Who else would play Boris Johnson? I hope Boris is flattered that we picked Kenneth Branagh to play him. Ken’s done a great job but, to be honest, it’s not a character piece.’

The 24 Hour Party People filmmaker said the drama focuses more on unfurling public events, rather than zoning in on the central characters’ personal lives.

The drama focuses on the pandemic years (Picture: Phil Fisk/ Sky UK Ltd)

‘You don’t see anyone’s back story, you don’t see who they are, their families, you just see what they’re doing in relation to the pandemic,’ Michael explained.

‘So, in a way, it’s the narrative of the pandemic that drives the whole series.’

Also in This England is Guardians Of The Galaxy star Ophelia Lovibond, who portrays the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Symonds, while Broadchurch star Andrew Buchan plays former health secretary Matt Hancock.

This England will premiere on Sky Atlantic and NOW on September 21.


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