UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and his own crippling battle with the disease are to be the subject of a new TV series helmed by BAFTA-winning director Michael Winterbottom.
Deadline understands that deals were done to develop the drama this week, with the project being housed at Fremantle in partnership with True Detective executive producer Richard Brown’s Passenger and Winterbottom’s Revolution Films. Fremantle signed an overall agreement with Brown last year.
24 Hour Party People filmmaker Winterbottom will direct and co-write the series, while Brown (Passenger) and Melissa Parmenter (Revolution Films) are executive producers. The Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman will serve as a consultant on the show. Shipman’s book All Out War provided the inspiration for Channel 4 and HBO’s drama Brexit: The Uncivil War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Although no network or streamer is yet attached, there is hope that drama’s giant themes will have global appeal. It will follow Johnson’s story from his appointment as prime minister, through to the arrival of COVID-19 in the UK, the British leader falling critically ill and the birth of his son. It also promises to explore how Britain ended up with the second-worst coronavirus death toll in the world.
Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s global COO, said: “There are rare moments in history when leaders find their private lives uniquely connected to national events, where personal experience and official role collide in an unusual way. The last few months in the life of the UK Prime Minister clearly mark one of these moments.”
Brown added: “Michael Winterbottom is the ideal filmmaker to tell the story of the extraordinary events surrounding Boris Johnson’s new government and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has captured the attention of the world.”
Fremantle has had some success with factual drama this month with The Salisbury Poisonings. Made by Dancing Ledge Productions, the series based on the 2018 novichok poisonings in the UK has been picked up by AMC after being watched by 10M viewers on BBC One.