This England: cast with Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson, release date, and trailer for Sky drama

Kenneth Branagh stars as Boris Johnson in This England, Michael Winterbottom’s five-part dramatisation of the government response to the coronavirus pandemic

A trailer has been released for This England, a new drama about the early days of the coronavirus pandemic starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.

The series – previously titled This Sceptred Isle – has been written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, and is set to arrive on Sky Atlantic on Wednesday 28 September (a few weeks after a new Prime Minister enters office).

Here’s everything you need to know about This England.

What is it about?

Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds and Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in This England (Credit: Phil Fisk/Sky)

This England is about the early days of Boris Johnson’s premiership, looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how the response was mishandled by the Conservative government.

The series is set to take viewers “inside the halls of power, as Johnson grapples with Covid-19, Brexit, and a controversial person and political life”.

The official synopsis reveals as well that “the events in government are interwoven with stories from around the UK, from the experts and scientists racing against time to understand the virus; the doctors, nurse, and care home workers on the frontline working tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome it; and ordinary people whose lives thrown into turmoil.”

Who stars in This England?

Andrew Buchan as Matt Hancock in This England (Credit: Phil Fisk/Sky)

Kenneth Branagh stars as Boris Johnson, the newly elected Prime Minister. You might recognise Branagh – well, probably not, he looks uncannily like Johnson in the pictures we’ve seen so far – you might know Branagh from films like Much Ado About Nothing, Murder on the Orient Express, and Tenet. He also recently won an Oscar for his screenplay for the film Belfast.

Ophelia Lovibond plays Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s new partner. Lovibond has starred in Elementary, Feel Good, W1A, and Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s currently starring in the HBO comedy Minx alongside Jake Johnson.

Andrew Buchan plays Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Buchan is probably best known as the dad in Broadchurch, but you might also know him from roles in Genius: Picasso, Alex Rider, Party Animals, and The Crown.

According to his agency, Tim Goodman will appear as Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father. Goodman has previously starred in Jane Eyre (2006), Autopsy: The Last Hours of Liberace, and a 1966 episode of Doctor Who.

They’re joined by Alec Nicholls (The Midwich Cuckoos) as Patrick Vallance, James Corrigan (The Nan Movie) as Isaac Levido, Rachel Sophia-Anthony (Top Boy) as Lola Aldenjana, and Simon Kunz (This Time with Alan Patridge) as Andrew Mills.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, there is. You can watch it right here.

The trailer shows sweeping shots of the inside of Number 10 Downing Street alongside some sideways glances at Branagh’s Johnson, all as Rule Britannia plays in the background.

A second, longer trailer was released in August, around a month before the release of This England. You can watch it right here.

Who writes and directs This England?

The series has been primarily written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, who is best known for films like Greed and the television series 24 Hour Party People. Winterbottom also directed the Trip series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

Kieron Quirke (Defending the Guilty) has also written one episode, and Julian Jarrold (The Crown) has directed an episode also.

Conservative journalist and political editor of The Sunday Times Tim Shipman has acted as a consultant on the series.

When will This England be released?

Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in This England (Credit: Phil Fisk/Sky)

This England is scheduled for release - with every episode available at once - on Wednesday 28 September.

It was originally announced for a week earlier, on Wednesday 21 September, but was postponed in light of the Queen’s death.

How and where can I watch This England?

This England will be available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

Why should I watch This England?

It’s reasonably to be dubious of this – or any project like it, so soon to the events being covered – but that’s probably what makes it interesting as much of anything else. This is the first draft of history being written, in a sense, so it’s worth seeing what the conclusions are settling as.