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The TV networks have ordered the feature-length film Churchill’s Secret, based on a recently published book by Jonathan Smith and adapted by Stewart Harcourt.
Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore in all but two of the Harry Potter films, will star as Churchill, while Lindsay Duncan will play his long-suffering wife, Clementine. Charles Sturridge will directed the two-hour film, with Timothy Bricknell producing. Gambon recently retired from theater acting due to what he described as “frightening” memory loss.
The film is being co-produced for the U.S. with PBS’ Masterpiece, with Rebecca Eaton, who brought the likes of Downton Abbey and Sherlock to the U.S., serving as executive producer. It will air on PBS in 2016 following its broadcast on ITV.
Daybreak Pictures, part of the Tinopolis Group, will produce the drama with executive producers Hal Vogel and David Aukin overseeing production.
The story centers on Churchill in the summer of 1953. Having become the U.K. leader for a second time and now in his late 70s, Churchill suffers a life-threatening stroke, which is kept secret from the world. Told from the viewpoint of his young nurse, Millie Appleyard, the drama follows his battle to recover, as his wife Clemmie desperately hopes the incident will force him to retire while his political friends and foes scheme to plot who will succeed him. Meanwhile, Churchill’s adult children descend on the family home, unsure if he will pull through, as tensions within begin to surface.
“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 Steve November, ITV’s director of drama.
Added Masterpiece’s Eaton: “Winston Churchill is an epic figure to Americans, much as he is to the British. He epitomizes the Special Relationship, a phrase he coined. Hal Vogel and David Aukin have been excellent partners in the past, and it’s a privilege to be working with them again.”
Filming will begin in June in London and at Churchill’s principal family home in the English county of Kent. Passion Distribution, part of the Tinopolis Group, will handle international sales.
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