The first trailer has been released for Sir Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming drama about Boris Johnson’s leadership during the outbreak of the pandemic, and his impersonation is striking to say the least.
Two years after the start of the pandemic, many of us would prefer not to watch a series that will remind us of a time when we had to lock down indoors, keep our distance from loved ones and only head outside for a law-abiding stretch of exercise.
However, the new teaser for This England (previously titled This Sceptred Isle) might change some people’s minds, as Sir Kenneth completely disappears as he takes on the role of portraying the Prime Minister.
In the first footage released for the show – which also stars Ophelia Lovebond as the politician’s wife Carrie Johnson and Andrew Buchan as former health secretary Matt Hancock – the camera takes viewers for a behind-the-scenes look at the inside of No 10 Downing Street.
‘A new dawn is breaking,’ a voiceover can be heard saying at the start of the teaser, before statig: ‘2020 will be a year of prosperity,’ echoing similar words said by Mr Johnson in 2019.
Sir Kenneth’s portrayal of the PM is shown leading one of his many, famous coronavirus press briefings, attended by a crowd of reporters ready to take the politician to task over his leadership during one of the most challenging times faced by the UK and the world in recent history.
Voiceovers continue to emphasise the severity of the situation, referencing ‘500,000 deaths’, a ‘worst case scenario’ and the repeated instruction that the ‘single best thing we can all do is wash our hands’.
‘Johnson will come to regret securing the premiership,’ someone warns, before the trailer ends with the revelation that ‘the United Kingdom has overtaken Italy to report the highest official death toll’, which occurred in May 2020.
The trailer ends with the Prime Minister standing at his lectern, with two Union Jack flags visible behind him as he peers up at the reporters in front of him, an expression of bemusement dawning on his face.
Having previously been shown a look at Sir Kenneth in the role, this is the first footage we’ve seen of him in action – and the thespian has somehow exceeded our expectations with his uncanny performance.
The upcoming limited series will follow the PM’s first months as the Prime Minister, delving into the start of the pandemic when the world was put on hold by the mysterious virus.
In addition to the pandemic, it will also shine a spotlight on his personal life, the complexities and aftermath of Brexit and all of the drama that members of the public expects takes place behind closed doors in Parliament.
The focus on the government isn’t the only aspect of the tale, as the drama also brings in stories relating to scientists trying to comprehend Covid, the frontline workers who cared for those who caught the illness and members of the public trying to find some semblance of normality.
So has enough time passed for audiences to be willing to return to the start of the pandemic in the series, or will it feel to fresh for many to bear?
This England premieres on Sky Atlantic and NOW later this year.