A dramatisation of the scandal, based on “meticulous research”, is currently in production, and will focus on the gatherings that occured inside No 10 during the Covid lockdowns the government had sanctioned.
In the wake of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the scandal, in which several gatherings were revealed to have occurred during Covid-19 lockdowns, several Tory MPs submitted letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson, who was prime minister at the time.
Johnson issued a televised apology over the scandal in an address to the nation after Gray’s report attacked “a serious failure” to abide by the “standards expected of the entire British population”.
Johnson will feature in the series as a voice only, with impressionist Jon Culshaw playing him. The main roles will be played by Ophelia Lovibond (W1A) and Georgie Henley, who appeared in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise.
Lovibond and Henley will play a pair of fictional special advisers in the series, which Channel 4 said “will feature dramatic re-enactments of boozy parties in Downing Street interwoven with archive news footage and documentary interviews as the British public faced the pandemic”.
In a press release announcing the cast, the channel said the series will “juxtapose the revelry inside the nation’s seat of power with the hardship and sacrifice being experienced across the rest of the country”.
Other cast members include Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia, EastEnders), Hugh Skinner (Fleabag, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) as well as Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat, Ghosts). Ritchie’s Fresh Meat co-star Kimberly Nixon will also be in the show.
This isn’t the first show to have een released depicting controversiers regarding the Tory party during the pandemic.
In 2022, Michael Winterbottom and Kieron Quirke wrote This England, which saw Kenneth Branagh play Johnson. Lovibond also starred.
The year before, Jack Thiorne wrote the acclaimed Help, starring Jodie comer and Stephen Graham, which followed caregivers and patients at a Liverpool care home during the first Covid lockdown.