Michael Winterbottom is to write and direct a real-life drama about Boris Johnson’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic for producer and distributor Fremantle, Richard Brown’s production company Passenger and Revolution Films.

Set against the backdrop of the global pandemic, the series will tell the true story of the biggest national and personal crisis to face a government leader since World War II. From Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister and discovery of the first UK cases of COVID-19 through falling critically ill, to a recovery that coincided with the arrival of his new son.

The series will be co-written and directed by award-winning British director Michael Winterbottom, with Richard Brown (Passenger) and Melissa Parmenter (Revolution Films) serving as Executive Producers. Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, will act as a consultant on the series.

Richard Brown’s Passenger and Fremantle recently signed an exclusive multi-year deal to develop and produce scripted drama series.

Brown was the driving force behind HBO’s globally successful anthology series True Detective and has served as executive producer on all three seasons of the show. Most recently, Brown developed, and executive produced the Hulu / Sky Italia / Channel 4 limited series Catch-22, starring George Clooney, Kyle Chandler, Christopher Abbott and Hugh Laurie. Brown is also known for producing the Netflix action drama Outlaw King, directed by David Mackenzie and starring Chris Pine.

BAFTA award-winner Michael Winterbottom’s directing credits include 24 Hour Party People, A Cock And Bull Story, Wonderland, The Road To Guantanamo, The Mighty Heart and Welcome To Sarajevo, as well as The Trip anthology series.

Andrea Scrosati, Global COO, Fremantle said: “There are rare moments in history when leaders find their private lives uniquely connected to national events, where personal experience and official role collide in an unusual way. The last few months in the life of the UK Prime Minister clearly mark one of these moments. At Fremantle we are passionate about finding powerful and authentic stories and telling them with a fair and fact-based approach. Richard and Michael are the perfect creative team to bring this dramatic story to life, in a way that does justice to the true nature of the unbelievable events experienced by one of the world’s most high-profile leaders.”

Richard Brown added “Michael Winterbottom is the ideal filmmaker to tell the story of the extraordinary events surrounding Boris Johnson’s new government and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has captured the attention of the world.  We’re excited to join forces with Michael and Revolution Films on this project, a story which appears to demonstrate that fact is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction.”

Jon Creamer