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Spitting image Sky releases photo of Sir Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in Covid-19 drama This Sceptred Isle

The series, which tells the story of Covid-19’s arrival in the UK, will air next year.

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Sir Kenneth Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson in This Sceptred Isle (Sky UK/PA)

Sir Kenneth Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson in This Sceptred Isle (Sky UK/PA)

Sir Kenneth Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson in This Sceptred Isle (Sky UK/PA)

Sky have released the first photo of actor Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in an upcoming drama series based on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Northern Irish actor (60) will be playing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a new limited series, This Sceptred Isle, which will air on Sky Atlantic in 2022.

A photo shared by the broadcaster shows the actor with blond tousled hair as he stares, frowning, into the distance.

A post on Sky TV’s Twitter page, which was shared alongside the image, said: “No, you’re not seeing things. That’s Kenneth Branagh as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the first day of filming This Sceptred Isle.”

The five-part series has commenced filming and will focus on the impact of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on the United Kingdom.

It is based on the first-hand testimony of people from Downing Street, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), care homes and hospitals, according to the broadcaster.

Kenneth Branagh’s Boris Johnson bears a striking resemblance to the Prime Minister, whose response to the coronavirus emergency will be relayed in This Sceptred Isle.

Belfast-born Branagh is best known for starring in and directing film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, including Henry V and Hamlet. The Emmy Award-winning actor also starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in the Harry Potter film franchise and played Hercule Poirot in the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

This Sceptred Isle will be directed by Michael Winterbottom, who co-wrote the series with Kieron Quirke.

Winterbottom has a track record of making factual based dramas including the award-winning films Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland, and 24 Hour Party People.

In a statement, he said: “The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever of the importance of community.

“Our series weaves together countless true stories - from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country - chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus.”

Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content Zai Bennett added: “The central performance from Kenneth Branagh will make This Sceptred Isle a drama we are proud to be part of telling.”

Tim Shipman, political editor of the Sunday Times, is acting as a consultant.

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Sir Kenneth Branagh (Niall Carson/PA)

Sir Kenneth Branagh (Niall Carson/PA)

Sir Kenneth Branagh (Niall Carson/PA)

The drama will begin with Mr Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister and will recount the first coronavirus cases in the UK.

It will tell the story of the 56-year-old falling ill with the virus, as well as the arrival of his son, Wilfred.

This Sceptred Isle will also focus on the impact of the pandemic on the UK as a whole.

The series will air in the autumn of next year on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

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