This England
GenreDrama
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Production
Executive producerRichard Brown
Producers
  • Melissa Parmenter
  • Josh Hyams
Production companies
Release
Original networkSky Atlantic
Original release28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)

This England (originally titled This Sceptred Isle), is a 2022 British television docudrama miniseries written by Michael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke. It depicts the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom based on testimonies of people in the Boris Johnson administration, on the various intergovernmental advisory groups (including the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), and in other affected British institutions such as care homes and hospitals.[1][2] It premiered on Sky Atlantic and Now on 28 September 2022.[3] Kenneth Branagh stars as Boris Johnson, and Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds.

Background

Boris Johnson wins a landslide victory in the December 2019 general election under the Get Brexit Done slogan, but within a few months faces the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, for which he is ultimately hospitalised, and the birth of his first child with his then partner Carrie Symonds.[1]

Cast

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.K. viewers
(millions)
1"Episode 1"Julian Jarrold and Michael WinterbottomMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
2"Episode 2"Julian Jarrold and Anthony WilcoxMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
3"Episode 3"Julian Jarrold and Anthony WilcoxMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
4"Episode 4"Julian Jarrold and Anthony WilcoxMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
5"Episode 5"Julian Jarrold and Anthony WilcoxMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
6"Episode 6"Julian Jarrold, Mat Whitecross and Michael WinterbottomMichael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke28 September 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A

Production

The miniseries was announced in June 2020 as This Sceptred Isle.[5] It was co-written by Michael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke.[6] Kenneth Branagh's casting as Boris Johnson was announced in January 2021. The series was produced by Fremantle, Passenger and Revolution Films,[5] with Richard Brown of Passenger and Melissa Parmenter of Revolution Films serving as executive producers.[7]

All episodes were originally set to be directed by Winterbottom,[6] but after the miniseries began filming in February 2021,[8] Winterbottom stepped down from directing in March, reportedly due to health issues. He was replaced by Julian Jarrold.[9] Tim Shipman, the political editor of The Sunday Times, is acting as a consultant. In March 2021, Ophelia Lovibond and Simon Paisley Day joined the cast as Carrie Symonds and Dominic Cummings.[10]

In 2022, it was announced that Sky had changed the title from This Sceptred Isle to This England. Both phrases are taken from the same passage in Shakespeare's Richard II.[11] The miniseries was set to premiere on 21 September 2022;[12] however on 9 September 2022 the premiere was pushed back to 28 September 2022, in respect of the UK period of mourning for the late Queen Elizabeth II.[13]

Reception

The series received mixed reviews,[14] with some British critics feeling that it was too soon for such a drama.[15][16][17] The Independent said: "here comes the show that precisely nobody was asking for".[18] The New York Times said it "debuted with solid ratings" and said, "It adds up to a heartbreaking depiction of the pressure on health workers, and the fear, pain and often lonely deaths of those hooked up to ventilators".[19] The Times praised the series and called it "An impressive enterprise but not an easy watch".[20] The Irish Times said "If you can stomach the material, this show is hugely watchable".[21]

Branagh was praised for his performance,[17] with The Times calling it mesmerising.[22] The Guardian and New Statesman felt the series was overly sympathethic to Johnson.[23][24] The NME praised the series, but said that the format "takes some getting used to" as it oscillates between harrowing scenes in hospitals to events that resemble the 2005 BBC political satire, The Thick of It.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Kenneth Branagh transforms into Boris Johnson in uncanny first-look photo for new coronavirus drama". Sky News. 25 February 2021. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Boris Johnson and Covid dramatised in This England: 'People might say we went too easy on him'". Financial Times. 20 September 2022.
  3. ^ "Sky Shifting 'This England' Launch Date By One Week To Respect UK Period Of Mourning". Deadline. 9 September 2022. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  4. ^ Glancy, Josh. "Kenneth Branagh on playing Boris: 'He has a certain loneliness'".
  5. ^ a b Ravindran, Manori (25 February 2021). "See First Photo of Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson". Variety. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in TV drama about Covid crisis". The Guardian. 23 January 2021. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  7. ^ Kanter, Jake (16 November 2020). "Michael Winterbottom's Revolution Films Inks First-Look Deal With Fremantle". Deadline. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Sky Drops First Look at Kenneth Branagh as British PM Boris Johnson in 'This Sceptred Isle'". Deadline. 25 February 2021. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Michael Winterbottom Takes Break from Directing COVID TV Drama 'This Sceptred Isle' Due to Ill Health". The Hollywood Reporter. 24 March 2021. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  10. ^ Kanter, Jake (3 March 2021). "Ophelia Lovibond, Simon Paisley Day Join Sky's UK Covid Crisis Series 'This Sceptred Isle' As Carrie Symonds & Dominic Cummings". Deadline. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Michael Winterbottom says Boris Johnson series 'This England' not revised after partygate revelations".
  12. ^ "Boris Johnson Drama 'This England' Starring Kenneth Branagh Sells to 88 Territories". 18 August 2022. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  13. ^ "Sky Shifting 'This England' Launch Date by One Week to Respect UK Period of Mourning". 9 September 2022. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  14. ^ "This England: Critics mixed over Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Boris Johnson". BBC News. 30 September 2022. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  15. ^ Einav, Dan (28 September 2022). "This England, Sky Atlantic review — Boris Johnson pandemic drama is both premature and dated ★★★☆☆". Financial Times. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  16. ^ Ellen, Barbara (2 October 2022). "The week in TV: This England; Make Me Prime Minister; Inside Man; Industry". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  17. ^ a b Armstrong, Neil (28 September 2022). "This England review: Boris Johnson drama is 'too soon' ★★★☆☆". BBC Culture. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  18. ^ Hilton, Nick (29 September 2022). "This England is a Covid drama that should be avoided like the plague ★★☆☆☆". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  19. ^ Lander, Mark (30 September 2022). "Britain Wonders, Is It Too Soon to Dramatize the Pandemic?". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  20. ^ Fay, Liam (2 October 2022). "This England review — Behind the scenes as Boris unravels ★★★★☆". The Times. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  21. ^ Power, Ed (28 September 2022). "This England review: If you can stomach the material, this show is hugely watchable. ★★★★☆". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  22. ^ Mideley, Carol (27 September 2022). "This England review — Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Boris Johnson is mesmerising ★★★★☆". Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  23. ^ Cook, Rachel (28 September 2022). "Michael Winterbottom's This England is odd and oddly repellent". Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  24. ^ Mangan, Lucy (28 September 2022). "This England review – so sympathetic to Boris Johnson it is absolutely bananas. ★★☆☆☆". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  25. ^ Mottram, James (28 September 2022). "'This England' review: Kenneth Branagh and the big, blond buffoon. ★★★★☆". NME. Retrieved 4 October 2022.