This England (formerly titled This Scepter Island), gives us our first look at Oscar winner and highly respected comedian Kenneth Branagh as the much less respected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson. Coming courtesy of Sky, This England will take audiences inside Number 10 Downing Street and follow Branagh who, from the trailer, has transformed into Boris Johnson with uncanny precision.
Based on testimonials from people in government, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, nursing homes and hospitals, This England is a miniseries that will detail Johnson’s first months in office, charting the events surrounding him and his government as they struggle to gain control of the pandemic, and specifically the first wave.
“The drama takes us through the halls of power as Johnson (Branagh) grapples with Covid-19, Brexit and a controversial personal and political life,” Sky said of the project in a statement. “Events in government are intertwined with stories from across the UK, of experts and scientists racing against time to understand the virus; the doctors, nurses and care home workers on the front lines who are working tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome it; and ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down.
The trailer begins with a voiceover from Branagh, who perfectly recreated Johnson’s loud, searing delivery while seemingly removing the Prime Minister’s face and throwing it over his own. “A new dawn is dawning, 2020 will be a year of prosperity,” Johnson said. Oh, how wrong he was.
The tone of the images is undeniably disturbing. But whether this is due to the impending pandemic or the fact that Boris Johnson has just become Prime Minister will depend on personal opinion. Maybe both. “This Covid virus, we have to keep an eye on it,” Branagh continues. Following a montage of clips, we are reminded of the harsh reality as a radio host declares: “The UK has overtaken Italy to report the highest official death toll.
Kenneth Branagh was made into Boris Johnson for This England
By far the most impressive element of the sequence is the success with which Kenneth Branagh was transformed into Boris Johnson. No trace of the actor remains as Branagh’s recognizable face is hidden under prosthetics and, of course, a ridiculously scruffy splash of light blonde hair. No doubt many will wonder if This England just followed Johnson everywhere. At times, there’s something slightly… inhuman about Branagh’s new face, but considering the actual inspiration that may have been crafted.
Either way, Kenneth Branagh’s transformation into Prime Minister is one of the most amazing since Colin Farrell was transformed into The Batman villain, The Penguin.
Alongside Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson, This England also stars Elementary and guardians of the galaxy actress Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds, who would become Johnson’s wife during the pandemic. Broadchurch and The crown Star Andrew Buchan is also on board to play Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who became the former Health Secretary after he was caught kissing his assistant Gina Coladangelo in his office, breaking his own rules. What Boris Johnson has also since been convicted of. There may actually be too much drama to fit into a limited series.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, This England will debut on Sky later this year.
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