Sir Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Boris Johnson may be a major talking point around This England, the new Sky Atlantic series charting the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he is joined in the series by a host of big name actors playing real-life figures.


One of those is Ophelia Lovibond, who is playing Carrie Johnson (then Symonds) opposite Branagh. Ahead of the series airing, Lovibond spoke exclusively with, and revealed that she didn't contact the real-life Carrie before playing the role - for a very specific reason.

Lovibond explained: "I didn't speak to Carrie, no. I did think about it and I'm sure there would have been a way to make that happen. But I just had this feeling that it wouldn't be the right way to go.

"I thought, 'What if I'm just completely charmed by her and then that might influence my portrayal of her? Maybe that wouldn't be quite accurate.' So I decided it probably wouldn't be advisable."

Ophelia Lovibond and Kenneth Branagh in This England.
Ophelia Lovibond and Kenneth Branagh in This England. Phil Fisk/Sky UK

Lovibond revealed that instead of speaking directly to Carrie, she instead spoke "to a few people that had friends of friends with her, which was helpful".

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She also "did lots of research" for the role, looking to Carrie's background, including "where she grew up, what school she attended, and then went into quite a lot of detail about her career path".

The series also had plenty of consultants with inside knowledge on hand, with Lovibond acknowledging that "among others we had Tim Shipman [journalist and former political editor of The Sunday Times], who was giving us lots of very specific, reliable information".

Lovibond said that Shipman has "spoken to [Carrie] many times" in the past, meaning he was able to give "quite helpful insights into her character and her nature and things like that".

Alongside This England, Lovibond is also currently starring in HBO Max comedy series Minx, which is available to stream in the UK on Paramount Plus.

This England is coming to Sky Atlantic and NOW on 28th September 2022 – find out more about how to sign up for Sky TV. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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