Sir Kenneth Branagh to star in drama about Boris Johnson’s handling of pandemic

Sir Kenneth Branagh is going to play Boris Johnson in a TV show about the treatment of the coronavirus by the Prime Minister.

The Sceptred Isle, first published last year and now commissioned by Sky, will be operated by Michael Winterbottom, who will also be co-author while Tim Shipman, The Sunday Times' political editor, will be working as a consultant.

Starting with his election as Prime Minister, the five-part disaster will cover the first cases of Covid-19 in the UK, by Mr Johnson's virus disease, and his son's birth.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister (Leon Neal/PA)

The series traces the effects of the pandemic and the experiences of scientists, nurses and physicians on Britain.

It builds on the personal testimonies given by people in No. 10 Downing Street, Health Department, Science Emergency Advisory Group (Sage), and hospitals and nursing homes across the world.

Winterbottom co-wrote the series with Kieron Quirke, and would include all five episodes.

Winterbottom Manager Michael (Ian West/PA)

"The first wave of the pandemic Covid-19 will forever be remembered.

"A moment when the country was assembled to meet an unseen threat.

"A time when people became more conscious of the value of the culture than ever before.

"This series weaves countless true stories from Boris Johnson in No. 10 to leading national workers to chronicle the efforts of scientists, physicians, home workers and policy-makers to protect us from the virus."

Fremantle, the major producer and distributor, reached an initial agreement with Winterbottom and its manufacturer Revolution Films to design and produce screenplays and films, co-produce and sell Fremantle's projects worldwide.

The deal is done along with Richard Brown and his Passenger business, with Brown and Melissa Parmenter from Revolution Films as executive producers of the political drama.

Zai Bennett, Content Managing Director at Sky UK said: "Covid-19 has posed once-in-a-generation challenges to the world and in the UK, over the past year, the public has been incredibly resilient and solid.

"To represent government personnel who are facing unparalleled obstacles on the frontlines of an extraordinary battle, Michael Winterbottom has a strong and convincing vision to share this excellent story.

"Including the central performance from Kenneth Branagh, the unbelievable creative talent of Fremantle makes This Sceptred Isle a drama that we are proud to tell."

Brown added: "Michael has an undeniable, distinct vision and is a master at weaving the persuasive play of factual tales.

"He and Kieron wrote remarkable and carefully researched scripts that dramatized these extraordinary events, which continue to affect us all."

The series will start to film in early 2021 and should debut in the autumn of 2022 on Sky Atlantic and Now Telev.