The Labour-supporting director of a controversial TV drama about Boris Johnson’s first year in 10 Downing Street has stepped back from the big-budget series.
Michael Winterbottom – who has also written the screenplay for the five-part series This Sceptred Isle, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh – has been replaced by Julian Jarrold, whose credits include The Crown.
His decision to step down ‘temporarily’ is understood to have taken place last month – shortly after Sky Atlantic decided to screen a disclaimer before each episode, telling viewers it is a work of fiction.
Sky Atlantic, which bought the drama from Mr Winterbottom’s Revolution Films, last night said the director had stood down due to ill-health
The drama is said to cover Mr Johnson becoming Prime Minister, falling ill with Covid-19, the birth of son Wilf by Carrie Symonds, played by Ophelia Lovibond, and the Government’s pandemic response.
Sources say there have been tensions between the production companies involved in the series since The Mail on Sunday revealed inaccuracies in the shooting script.
Mr Jarrold, 60, a member of an historic Norfolk retail family, has already taken charge of filming at locations across the UK.
Sky Atlantic, which bought the drama from Mr Winterbottom’s Revolution Films, last night said the director had stood down due to ill-health.
Sources say there have been tensions between the production companies involved in the series since The Mail on Sunday revealed inaccuracies in the shooting script. (Still taken from Sky TV drama, starring Kenneth Branagh, pictured, as the Prime Minister)
It was unable to say if he will return for filming but said he retained the title of executive producer and would work from home.
An insider said: ‘Michael co-wrote the script and will always have his name attached to it, but he has disappeared from the day-to-day running. There are rumours on set he was part of a wider group of people who didn’t agree with Sky’s decision to put a disclaimer on the show.’
Mr Jarrold’s previous work also includes 2011 drama Appropriate Adult about Fred and Rose West.
Critics have suggested that the Left-wing leanings of Mr Winterbottom, 60, could result in the drama being politically biased. It is due to be screened next year.
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