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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

'This Sceptred Isle': Kenneth Branagh to play UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in TV series about the start of the pandemic

The series looks at how the UK handled the early days of the global outbreak, and Johnson’s hospitalisation after contracting the virus

Oscar-nominated actor and director,Kenneth Branagh, will play British PM Boris Johnson in a new series about the early days of the pandemic in the UK. Getty Images, AFP
Oscar-nominated actor and director,Kenneth Branagh, will play British PM Boris Johnson in a new series about the early days of the pandemic in the UK. Getty Images, AFP

Five-time Oscar-nominee Kenneth Branagh is set to play British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a new five-part drama about the early days of the pandemic.

The 60-year-old star will take on the role of the 56-year-old PM in the drama, This Sceptred Isle – the title taken from Shakespeare's Richard II – which will be directed by Michael Winterbottom, the helmer of Angelina Jolie-starrer, A Mighty Heart, and the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon dramedy, The Trip.

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a coronavirus news conference at 10 Downing Street, London, Britain January 22, 2021. The prime minister announced that the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, which was first discovered in the south of England, appears to be linked with an increase in the mortality rate. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson famously contracted the coronavirus. Reuters

“The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered forever,” the director said of why he chose to focus on this period of the pandemic. “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 frontline workers around the country — chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus.”

Johnson famously contracted the virus and was hospitalised for over a week, spending time in intensive care, before recovering at the Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers in Buckinghamshire.

"It was hard to believe that in just a few days my health had deteriorated to this extent,” Johnson later told The Sun. “I remember feeling frustrated. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting better. But the bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe.”

Based on first-hand accounts from members of the government, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and hospitals and care homes across the UK, the show promises to “tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the UK, and of a Prime Minister leading in these unprecedented times”.

The series is scheduled to debut on Sky in Autumn 2022.

Updated: January 25, 2021 11:31 AM

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