Benedict Cumberbatch will star in a Channel 4 TV drama about the Brexit vote in the U.K., which will be timed to air as Britain leaves the European Union next March. Cumberbatch will play Dominic Cummings, the leading strategist and campaign director of the Vote Leave movement, which sought to persuade British voters to opt for exiting the EU.
“I am particularly pleased to commission James Graham’s hard-hitting and compulsive drama on how the Brexit vote was won with Benedict Cumberbatch in a new role,” Channel 4’s new programming boss, Ian Katz, said at a Channel 4 event in London, Wednesday. “It will be broadcast just ahead of our formal [exit] from the EU in March, assuming that we actually get around to leaving.”
Graham wrote the stage play “The Vote,” which was set on the night of the general election vote and featured an ensemble cast including Mark Gatiss and Judi Dench. His Channel 4 project “Brexit” will be a 120-minute one-off.
“I’m so excited – not to mention a little nervous – to have this chance to try and get under the skin of what happened during that historic vote,” Graham said. “I hope by going behind-the-scenes of the campaign, we’re able to interrogate the consequences of what happened during these 8 weeks that have changed the country forever.”
Beth Willis, head of drama at Channel 4, added: “James’ whip smart, funny and insightful writing is a breath of fresh air. We are so thrilled that he and the genius that is Benedict Cumberbatch feel Channel 4 is the right home for it – Brexit is exactly the kind of explosive and illuminating drama we want to have on the channel.”
House Productions, the U.K. indie producer created by former Working Title TV boss Juliette Howell and former Film4 head Tessa Ross, will produce “Brexit.” Toby Haynes (“Black Mirror”) will direct. Shooting starts later this year.
Britain and Europe are still grappling with the likely impact Brexit will have. At the Cannes Film Festival last week Margot James, minister for the digital and creative industries told Variety it would not have a significant impact on the U.K. film industry.