Sky has commissioned the new limited drama series This Sceptred Isle, which will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW TV. BAFTA and Emmy award-winning actor Kenneth Branagh will play U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The series will be produced by Fremantle, Richard Brown’s Passenger and Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films. The five-part drama will chart the events surrounding the U.K. Prime Minister, the government, and the country in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic.
This Sceptred Isle will tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the United Kingdom, and of Prime Minister Boris Johnson leading in these unprecedented times. The drama will trace the impact on Britain from this once in a generation pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses, and doctors as they worked tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome the virus.
The series is based on the first-hand testimony of people from all walks of life; from Number 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and from hospitals and care homes across the country.
Michael Winterbottom has co-written the series with Kieron Quirke, and will direct all five episodes. He will also executive produce alongside Richard Brown (Passenger). Melissa Parmenter (Revolution Films) will produce alongside Josh Hyams and Anthony Wilcox. Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, is acting as a consultant on the series.
This Sceptred Isle is the first project to emerge from a multi-year first look deal for scripted drama series struck by Fremantle and Passenger with Revolution Films.
Winterbottom has a track record of making factual based dramas, including the award-winning films Welcome to Sarajevo, A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People and The Road to Guantanamo.
“The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. 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,” said co-writer and director Winterbottom.
“Our series weaves together countless true stories — from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country — chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus.”
Sky UK Managing Director of Content, Zai Bennett said: “COVID-19 has presented once-in-a-generation challenges to the world, and in the UK the resilience and fortitude of the public over the past year has been nothing short of extraordinary. Portraying NHS staff and key workers on the frontlines of the extraordinary fight, to those in government facing unprecedented challenges; Michael Winterbottom has a clear and compelling vision in telling this remarkable story.
“The incredible creative talent Fremantle have assembled including the central performance from Kenneth Branagh will make This Sceptred Isle a drama we are proud to be part of telling.”
Executive producer Richard Brown added: “Michael is a master of weaving compelling drama from factual stories and he has an undeniable, distinct vision for this project.
“He and Kieron have written remarkable and meticulously researched scripts which powerfully dramatise these extraordinary events that continue to affect us all.”
This Sceptred Isle was commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content. Gabriel Silver, is the Senior Commissioning Editor for Sky Studios.
The five-part series will commence shooting in early 2021 and is expected to premiere on Sky Atlantic across all Sky territories (UK, Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland) in Autumn 2022.