Kenneth Branagh may be known for his roles as Poirot and Gilderoy Lockhart, as well as his Shakespeare adaptations, but now he is taking on one of his most high-profile roles yet - as Boris Johnson in new Sky Atlantic series This England.


Branagh has been fitted out with full prosthetics for the role, which sees him as the former Prime Minister as part of a sweeping exploration and examination of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series also stars Ophelia Lovibond, Andrew Buchan and Simon Paisley Day, and was originally called This Sceptred Isle, with both that and the current title taken from a speech by John of Gaunt in the Shakespeare play Richard II.

Ever since the show was announced, some have argued that it is arriving "too soon" following on from the crisis, and the director for drama commissioning at Sky Studios Gabriel Silver admitted that he initially felt the same.

However, Silver reassured viewers that he now believes this to be an "important" series which is "very forensic" and assured "very responsibly told".

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Read on for everything you need to know about This England and when it will arrive on our screens.

This England release date

Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in This England.
Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in This England. Phil Fisk/Sky UK

This England will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW from Wednesday 28th September 2022.

The series will be made up of six episodes, all of which will launch on the same day, meaning they will all be able to stream on both Sky and NOW.

What is This England about?

Carrie (Ophelia Lovibond) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Kenneth Branagh) in This England.
Carrie (Ophelia Lovibond) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Kenneth Branagh) in This England. Phil Fisk/Sky

Sky Atlantic's upcoming drama is set to look at the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, the impact of the first wave on the country and the government's response to the crucial work in hospitals and care homes.

The six-part series will follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he leads the country during unprecedented times and the scientists, doctors and nurses as they studied and tried to contain the virus.

Written by The Trip's Michael Winterbottom, and Defending the Guilty's Kieron Quirke, This England is based on first-hand testimonies from individuals from Number 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and other public bodies.

The Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman serves as a consultant on the series, which weaves together "countless true stories from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country," according to Winterbottom.

The official synopsis reads: "This England, based on Boris Johnson’s tumultuous first months as Prime Minister, traces the impact on the country of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. The drama takes us inside the halls of power, as Johnson (Branagh) grapples with Covid-19, Brexit, and a controversial personal and political life.

"The events in government are interwoven with stories from around the country, from the experts and scientists racing against time to understand the virus; the doctors, nurses and care-home workers on the frontline working tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome it; and ordinary people whose lives were thrown into turmoil."

This England cast

Andrew Buchan plays Matt Hancock in This England
Andrew Buchan plays Matt Hancock in This England. SEAC

Sir Kenneth Branagh leads the cast as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the drama detailing his response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and his own experience with the virus. The rest of the central cast is made up by Ophelia Lovibond as his now-wife Carrie, while Andrew Buchan plays the former Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Here's the full confirmed cast list for Sky Original drama This England.

  • Sir Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson
  • Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds (later Johnson)
  • Tom Buchan as Matt Hancock
  • Tim Goodman as Stanley Johnson
  • Alec Nicholls as Sir Patrick Vallance
  • James Corrigan as Isaac Levido
  • Rachel Sophia-Anthony as Lola Aldenjana
  • Simon Kunz as Andrew Mills
  • Simon Paisley Day as Dominic Cummings

This England trailer

There have now been multiple teasers and trailers for This England, including the full trailer which was first released exclusively by

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


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