Whether you like it or not, 2019 is the year of Brexit — so what better time to look back on where it all began, with a behind-the-scenes drama charting the beginnings of the Vote Leave campaign and the 2016 EU referendum?
Sherlock and Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch plays Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings, and he’s joined by a stellar supporting cast, including Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) and Richard Goulding (The Windsors).
Who is Dominic Cummings? The real-life campaign director of Vote Leave during the 2016 EU referendum, he was previously Michael Gove’s chief of staff and a controversial figure within the Conservative party. He’s said to have conceived of the ‘£350 million a week for the NHS’ slogan that was famously plastered across a red bus.
Where have I seen Benedict Cumberbatch before? After winning the nation’s hearts as the world’s most ingenious detective in BBC1’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch has gone on to conquer Hollywood. He’s starred in various Marvel films as Doctor Strange, and portrayed Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.
Most recently he’s starred in Patrick Melrose, for which he garnered Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
Rory Kinnear plays Craig Oliver
Who is Craig Oliver? Cummings’ counterpart in the Vote Remain camp, and former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Director of Communications, Craig Oliver based his campaign strategy on tried and trusted methods — and was shocked to see them flounder in the wake of Cummings’ ideas.
Where have I seen Rory Kinnear before? An award-winning actor of stage and screen, Rory Kinnear is perhaps best recognised for playing Bill Tanner in the James Bond films Quantam of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre.
He picked up an Olivier in 2013 for his performance as Iago in the National Theatre’s Othello, and he was the voice of Cowslip in BBC1’s recent animated adaptation of Watership Down. He’s previously starred alongside co-star Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, as Detective Robert Nock.
Liz White plays Mary Wakefield
Who is Mary Wakefield? Mary Wakefield is a Spectator journalist and the wife of Leave campaigner Dominic Cummings.
Where have I seen Liz White before? She played PC Annie Cartwright in classic time-travel drama Life on Mars, before going on to star as Emma Keane in Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge, as Rhoda Mullucks in Call the Midwife.
She’s also appeared in Line of Duty and the Daniel Radcliffe film The Woman in Black.
John Heffernan plays Matthew Elliot
Who is Matthew Elliot? A British political strategist and lobbyist who worked for Vote Leave. The campaign was found in July 2018 to have broken UK electoral spending limits and fined £61,000 .
Where have I seen John Heffernan before? John Heffernam appeared as Lord Altrincham in Netflix’s The Crown, and as Francis in The Hollow Crown.
He’s also enjoyed roles in Luther, King Lear, Foyle’s War, and as Jaggers in Dickensian.
Richard Goulding plays Boris Johnson
Who is Boris Johnson? A former Mayor of London and later Foreign Secretary, he supported Vote Leave and later dropped out of the race to replace David Cameron in 2016 shortly after Michael Gove announced his candidacy.
Where have I seen Richard Goulding before? Comedic actor Richard Goulding has played Prince Harry in both The Windsors and King Charles III, and appeared in blockbuster films including Me Before You and The Iron Lady.
Kyle Soller plays Zack Massingham
Who is Zack Masingham? Zack Massingham is the founder of a data technology company, which helped target voters through social media.
Where have I seen Kyle Soller before? A stage and screen actor, Soller is perhaps best known for his role as Francis in BBC’s Poldark.
He’s also starred in The Hollow Crown and appeared alongside co-star Benedict Cumberbatch in Henry VI.
Simon Paisley Day plays Douglas Carswell
Who is Douglas Carswell? A former Conservative MP, in 2014 Carswell became the first elected Member of Parliament for the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He left UKIP in March 2017 and did not stand for reelection at the latest General Election.
Where have I seen Simon Paisley Day before? Paisley Day has played Lord Chamberlain in ITV’s Victoria, Meryn Lewis in Netflix’s The Crown, and has also starred in Sherlock, Doctor Who and Doc Martin.
He’s also appeared in films including Victoria and Abdul, Trixie, Born a King, and Beauty.
Oliver Maltman plays Michael Gove
Who is Michael Gove? Currently Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom, Michael Gove supported the Vote Leave campaign in 2016.
Where have I seen Oliver Maltman before? Actor and screenwriter (he’s is currently co-writing a series for BBC2), Maltman stars alongside Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Watson & Holmes, and has also appeared in The Crown and Liar.
Paul Ryan plays Nigel Farage
Who is Nigel Farage? Former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and currently Vice-Chairman of the pro-Brexit organisation Leave Means Leave.
Where have I seen Paul Ryan before? Ryan plays Gramps in Waffle the Wonder Dog, and has also appeared in Family Affairs, EastEnders, The Five, Family Affairs, Robin Hood and The Inspector Lindley Mysteries.
Lee Boardman plays Arron Banks
Who is Arron Banks? British businessman and co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, he’s the current subject of an investigation by the National Crime Agency into alleged electoral law offences. Of the investigation, Mr Banks said he was “pleased” to be able to “finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues.”
Where have I seen Lee Boardman before? A familiar face in British television, Banks has appeared in ITV’s Bancroft, Outlander and more recently BBC/Netflix’s The Last Kingdom.
This article was originally published in January 2019