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The filmmaker — whose recent credits include series The Trip and feature comedy Greed, both with Steve Coogan — is set to co-write and direct a new real-life drama set against the global pandemic and “the biggest national and personal crisis to face a government leader since World War II.”
Johnson, who himself fell critically ill to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, and welcomed a new son just weeks later, has been widely criticized for his actions before and during the outbreak in the U.K., which currently has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe and the second-highest death toll per capita in the world.
The as-yet-untitled series comes from Fremantle, alongside Passenger, the banner of True Detective and Catch-22 executive producer Richard Brown, and Melissa Parmenter’s Revolution Films. Brown and Parmenter will exec produce, while Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, will act a consultant.
“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,” said Brown. “We’re excited to join forces with Michael and Revolution Films on this project, a story which appears to demonstrate that fact is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction.”
Passenger and Fremantle recently signed an exclusive multiyear deal to develop and produce scripted drama series.
“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,” said Andrea Scrosati, global COO at Fremantle. “The last few months in the life of the U.K. prime minister clearly mark one of these moments.”
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