Kenneth Branagh Responds To Critics Who Say It's 'Too Soon' For His New Covid Drama

The Oscar-winning star portrays former prime minister Boris Johnson in the new series This England.

Sir Kenneth Branagh has defended his new project This England, after some critics suggested it was “too soon” for a show centred around the Covid-19 pandemic.

The much-hyped new TV drama sees the Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker donning facial prosthetics to play Boris Johnson, as the then-PM attempts to navigate the first wave of coronavirus.

This England will also cover Johnson’s own hospitalisation with Covid in April 2021, as well as the birth of his son, Wilfred.

While some have expressed their excitement for the new drama, particularly after seeing initial pictures of Sir Kenneth in character, others have questioned whether it’s really appropriate given the pandemic is still ongoing.

Kenneth Branagh at the Oscars
Kenneth Branagh at the Oscars
VALERIE MACON via Getty Images

Asked about this criticism in an interview with The Times, the Hamlet star said: “There will be those who say it’s too soon. I think these events are unusual and part of what we must do is acknowledge them.

“It might allow people to process a little of what went on. Any way of understanding it better is important.”

The five-part series will feature Olivia Lovibond playing Johnson’s future wife Carrie Symonds, while MPs including Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel will all be depicted, as will former adviser to the then-PM, Dominic Cummings.

Sir Kenneth in character on the set of This England
Sir Kenneth in character on the set of This England
Sky UK via PA Media

Director Michael Winterbottom previously said: “[Kenneth has] done a great job but, to be honest, it’s not a character piece.

“Boris/Ken is just the central character in the story. With everyone else, we’re really just looking at their work in relation to this pandemic.

“You don’t see anyone’s back story, you don’t see who they are, their families, you just see what they’re doing in relation to the pandemic.

“So, in a way, it’s the narrative of the pandemic that drives the whole series.”

Boris Johnson pictured earlier this month
Boris Johnson pictured earlier this month
ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images

This England is currently scheduled to debut on Sky and the catch-up service Now on 21 September.

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