Bumbling Boris and his pandemic decisions are brought to life and laid bare in spectacular fashion through This England.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK in 2020 and the country plunged into chaos and lockdowns, all eyes were on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide leadership. Whatever personal opinion held of the way the PM handled the unprecedented events, Michael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke have dramatised them based on first hand testimony. Involving those working on the front lines and prominent advisory bodies, This England should ensure the story is told accurately - conveying what was really going on behind the scenes as Johnson and his gaggle of confidantes muddled their way through times the nation never want to witness again. Read on for how to watch the drama, and other key details about this unmissable show.
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Where to watch This England:
The six-part series This England will be available to watch in the UK on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. All episodes will be made available for streaming at the same time.
A flexible way to view Sky Atlantic is a Now TV (opens in new tab) Entertainment Pass, which can be purchased for £9.99 a month. Another method is through Sky TV (opens in new tab) itself, where it can be purchased as part of their Sky Signature TV packages.
This England: Trailer
This England: Release date
All six episodes of This England will be released on Wednesday September 28, 2022.
The series has occasionally wrongly been referred to as a comedy-drama, and the cast and crew have been quick to dispel this mistaken billing. Actress Ophelia Lovibond who plays Carrie Johnson in the series, feels this error came from looking at previous comedy works from director Michael Winterbottom, and the fact he’s been very open about his political stance. Speaking to the Dorset Echo (opens in new tab), She said “I think some people have assumed because it was Michael Winterbottom, and because of his politics, I suppose he's spoken about them quite clearly, I think people would just make assumptions”.
She continued to say “But reading the scripts, I was impressed by how the information is presented, and then you as an audience are invited to make your conclusions from that. "It felt very naturalistic - not documentary style, that's going too far - and it certainly doesn't feel like a satire at all. It feels like it's just taking what happened and putting it into chronological order for you to make sense of this huge experience that we were all kind of thrust into”.
This England: Plot
This England dramatises the first few months of the pandemic as Boris Johnson was already getting to grips with the effects of Brexit. It is set to cover his personal mistakes during the crisis, and the political controversies that seemed to come thick and fast. The official synopsis reads:
“This England will tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the United Kingdom, and of a Prime Minister 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.
It 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”.
This England: Reviews
Early reviews coming in for the drama are certainly very mixed. Anita Singh from The Telegraph (opens in new tab) didn’t have very many good things to say, offering the show 2 / 5. She said “Branagh fails to get under Boris's skin – and this drama is a dud. Kenneth Branagh's bad wig and prosthetics overshadow what could have been a serious drama about the pandemic and lockdown”.
Dan Einav from the Financial Times (opens in new tab) also didn’t have much praise for the show. He said the “Boris Johnson pandemic drama is both premature and dated. Michael Winterbottom’s mini-series turns the floundering former prime minister into a tragic theatrical hero”.
Nick Curtis from the Evening Standard (opens in new tab) disagreed with the bad reviews, offering 5 / 5. His view is “Michael Winterbottom’s drama is splendid television, history distilled on screen. Kenneth Branagh perfectly captures the voice and the body language of the then-PM, and convincingly portrays him as lazy, entitled and almost childishly unfit for the role he coveted for so long”.
Alison Rowat from The Herald (opens in new tab) also had generally favourable views of the drama, weighing in on the time period the show covers by saying “This England is not the definitive drama about those times, it is too early for that."
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