Doctor Who and Sherlock star Mark Gatiss is to play the role of the wily New Labour spin doctor Peter Mandelson in Channel 4’s film Coalition about the rise of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The one-off drama aims to chart the “astonishing rise” of Clegg, a “rank outsider” who became the man who “would decide the fate of the country” after the 2010 election failed to produce a winning party, according to C4.
But the real-life drama also saw an important role for Mandelson, the former Cabinet Minister who played a key part in Labour’s unsuccessful 2010 election campaign.
Dubbed the “Prince of Darkness” by his enemies for his formidable skill of political spinning and plotting, Mandelson was one of a group of people behind the rebranding of the Labour Party and its three election successes in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
However, even his skills and cunning were not enough to persuade Clegg to join forces in a coalition with the Labour government which was led in 2010 by Gordon Brown.
The part of Clegg will be played by Bertie Carvel, last seen as the wily public relations executive Finn in Channel 4’s police drama Babylon.
Mark Dexter (The Bletchley Circle, Ripper Street) will play David Cameron and Ian Grieve takes on the role of Gordon Brown, a part he recently performed in the stage play The Confessions of Gordon Brown.
Written by James Graham – the playwright behind stage political hits Privacy, This House and Tory Boyz – Coalition charts the “often frenzied moments” of the coalition negotiations.
Having been an MP for just five years before he took to the podium for the UK’s first ever televised leader’s debate, extensive research is said to have enabled the drama to go into the backrooms of the government, with Channel 4 promising a “penetrating insight into one of the most influential and significant political decisions of recent years”.
Bafta-winning Alex Holmes (Dunkirk, House of Saddam) will direct.
It is due to air in 2015.