Director Michael Winterbottom said Sir Kenneth Branagh had done a “wonderful job” portraying Boris Johnson in the new series This England and hoped the Prime Minister was “flattering” in casting.
His five-part series follows Johnson as he grapples with Covid-19, Brexit and the controversies in his personal and political life.
Winterbottom, 61, said Sir Kenneth had agreed to star in the series after reading the first draft of the script, which he co-wrote with Kieron Quirke.
He told Deadline: “Ken said yes. But he only had eight weeks, in March and April, so I said, ‘Okay, that sounds doable.’
“Who else will play Boris Johnson? I hope Boris is pleased that we chose Kenneth Branagh to play him. Ken did an excellent job, but honestly, it’s not a character.
“Boris/Ken is just the central character in the story. With others, we’re really just looking at their work related to this pandemic.
“You don’t see anyone’s back story, you don’t see who they are, their family, you just see what they’re doing in relation to the pandemic.
“So in a way, it was the story of the pandemic that drove the entire series.”
The series will follow the impact on Britain from the pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses and doctors.
It is based on first-hand evidence from people inside Number 10, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) and hospitals and care homes around the country.
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“Boris is just a string running through it because it’s really a puzzle of so many different stories,” says Winterbottom. The most interesting part is the research because we started it right after the first batch in June 2020.
“We have to talk to a lot of scientists, people who work at Sage, a lot of doctors, nurses, home care workers and people with Covid.
“So it’s a collage of all their stories intertwined into one diary. It’s really a diary, or chronicle, or calendar of the first wave, so it will end at the end of May 2020.”
The director said the process of writing the series, which was originally titled This Sceptred Isle, was “quite quick,” while editing took longer.
He emphasized that he was “just trying to document what happened” and worked to capture the feeling of trying to catch up with the virus in the series.
He added: “My assumption was, and I think it’s true, that everyone was trying to do their best. No one wants to make mistakes.
“The virus spreads unbelievably fast. If you think about what happened in early March 2020, eight days later it’s a completely different situation, so the idea of the movie’s pacing is to try and keep that pace.
“When you are watching the movie, you are reminded of all the things that you remember going through.
“One moment it just seemed like something was happening in China, the next it was happening in Italy, then it was with us in the UK, but it wasn’t so bad, and then suddenly it was everywhere. place.”
Ophelia Lovibond, who stars in Guardians Of The Galaxy, plays the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Symonds, while Broadchurch star Andrew Buchan plays former health secretary Matt Hancock.
The TV series The Sky Original will premiere on September 21.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/i-hope-boris-is-flattered-by-sir-kenneth-playing-him-says-this-england-director-41924096.html I hope Boris is pleased that Sir Kenneth plays him, says This England director