To the pantheon of PBS projects about the Churchills, add Churchill’s Secret, which will star Michael Gambon as Sir Winston Churchill. Lindsay Duncan co-stars as Clementine Churchill in this ITV project, based on Jonathan Smith’s recently published book, The Churchill Secret: KBO. Stewart Harcourt (Love & Marriage, Treasure Island, Poirot) is adapting and it’s scheduled to air on PBS in 2016.
Churchill’s Secret is told from the point of view of Churchill’s nurse Millie Appleyard, and takes place during the summer months of 1953, when Churchill, in his late 70’s, was Prime Minister for the second time and suffered a stroke which was largely kept secret. The drama follows his battle to recover, as his wife hopes the stroke will force him to retire, and his political friends and foe strategize as to who will succeed him.
Tinopolis Group’s Daybreak Pictures is producing with exec producers Hal Voel and David Aukin. For Masterpiece, EP is Rebecca Eaton who said in a statement, by way of explaining the latest Churchill project, “Winston Churchill is an epic figure to Americans, much as he is to the British. He epitomizes the Special Relationship, a phrase he coined.”
Filming will begin in June 2015 in London and at Churchill’s principal family home, Chartwell in Kent. Churchill’s Secret will be directed by Charles Sturridge (Da Vinci’s Demons, The Scapegoat, The Road To Coronation Street) with Timothy Bricknell (From There to Here, The Fear, Eric & Ernie) producing the two-hour film. ITV’s director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea commissioned the drama.
“Churchill’s Secret is the extraordinary and compelling story of how one of our country’s most famous political figures battled back from life-threatening illness to hold on to power, ” said November, giving away a major plot point, for people not familiar with the history.
Hal Vogel and David Aukin on behalf of Daybreak Pictures said: “It’s testament to Jonathan Smith’s tender and witty novel and Stewart Harcourt’s extraordinary adaptation that we have been able to assemble the very best of British talent. We are thrilled to be working with Director Charles Sturridge and two of Britain’s finest actors in Michael Gambon and Lindsay Duncan.”