The show, which was originally commissioned by BBC One and produced by Happy Valley firm Red Production Company, has set Harry Potter and Love Actually star Thompson in the lead role of Vivienne Rook, an outspoken celebrity turned political figure whose controversial opinions divide the nation. She’s a new breed of politician, an entertainer, a rebel, a trickster, and her rise to power leads us into an unknown future.
Thompson will be joined by Spectre star Rory Kinnear, who plays Stephen Lyons, a financial advisor and the family’s peacekeeper who is married to Celeste, played by Marcella’s T’Nia Miller, an ambitious and opinionated accountant. Quantico’s Russell Tovey plays Daniel Lyons, a hard-working housing officer and Stephen’s brother. Their sister, Edith, played by Paddington 2’s Jessica Hynes, is radical, dangerous and calculating with a secret life. Cold Feet’s Ruth Madeley, as heavily pregnant Rosie, and Last Tango in Halifax’s Anne Reid, as imperial grandmother Muriel, round out the cast.
The family drama, which is set in Manchester, converges on one crucial night in 2019. The story will then accelerate into the future, following their lives and loves over the next 15 years as Britain withdraws from Europe, America becomes a lone wolf, China asserts itself, and a new world begins to form. That’s when Rook then begins her rise to power.
It is the ninth collaboration between Davies and Red Production Company founder Nicola Shindler following shows such as Queer As Folk and Cucumber. The six-episode drama will air on HBO, BBC One and France’s Canal+, with production set to start later this year and Red Production Company owner Studiocanal selling globally. It will be exec produced by Davies and Shindler as well as the BBC’s Lucy Richer. Karen Lewis is series producer.
Russell T Davies said, “This is a dream cast, put together by Andy Pryor, the man who found Jodie Whittaker to be Doctor Who. I’m very lucky, and very excited to start filming.”
Casey Bloys, President HBO programming said, “HBO is thrilled to once again partner with the BBC and to be joining Red Production Company in showcasing the stellar work of Russell T Davies and Emma Thompson with this sweeping family saga which captures the spirit of our time.”
Nicola Shindler, CEO Studiocanal UK, added, “No other writer could have written such an original, important and entertaining state of the nation drama; with a family at its centre that an audience will want to spend time with. I’m thrilled a cast of this calibre will bring them to life.”