This England on myCANAL: the series on Boris Johnson and the coronavirus is the anti-The Crown!

The mini-series “This England: the Boris Johnson years”, devoted to the management of the Covid-19 epidemic by the former English Prime Minister, can be discovered on Canal+ Series and the myCANAL application from this Monday, November 28 .

What is it about ?

At the end of March 2020, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized in emergency. Suffering from COVID-19, the leader of the United Kingdom spent several days in intensive care. The series traces the actions of Boris Johnson and his government in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic.

Who is it with?

Kenneth Branagh has been chosen to lend his features to Boris Johnson. Accustomed to biopics, the Northern Irish actor / director has already in the past embodied the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the TV movie Warm Springs or the playwright William Shakespeare, in his own film All Is True.

Carrie Symonds – Boris Johnson’s companion – is played by Ophelia Lovibond (Rocketman), while political adviser Dominic Cummings is played by Simon Paisley Day; a fervent supporter of Brexit, the latter was the subject of a television biopic in 2019 in Brexit: The Uncivil War, in the guise of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Finally the current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, then Chief Secretary of the Treasury at the time of the events, is camped by Shri Patel.

Well worth a look ?

Even before its broadcast, the mini-series This England poses a question to which we do not really have an answer: was it too early to tackle a fiction returning to the epidemic of coronavirus, and its political management, more precisely by the English government since it is a question here of a British series?

If in fact, it is undeniable that we still lack the perspective necessary to approach this period, This England also offers a portrait of the sulphurous Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in office from July 24, 2019 to September 6, 2022, and whose place in the ‘History – he who is already considered the least popular occupant of 10 Downing Street among all Prime Ministers – is also subject to debate across the Channel.

On the management of Covid-19, the series teaches us nothing, or at least it is content to put into images what we already knew: political authorities overwhelmed by events, hospitals quickly saturated by the lack of means… Added to this is the use of many archive images, showing a desire to anchor the series as close as possible to reality, almost like a docu-fiction.

Is the main subject of the series the Covid or Boris Johnson, a sulphurous personality well known to the general public, and about whom, paradoxically, we don’t know much? In addition to the rise of the epidemic, the series takes as common thread the relationship of the Conservative Prime Minister with Carrie Symonds, pregnant with their first child.

As he prepares to face the greatest health crisis of our time, the Prime Minister faces personal worries, his affair with a younger woman – while his divorce from wife Marina Wheeler has not yet been pronounced – not passing by his children.

Oscillating between the private and public aspect of the character, the series does not seem willing to decide to deliver a real point of view as to the personality of Boris Johnson, described both as an incompetent simpleton and as an extremely cultured man of letters. .

Sky Atlantic

This observation applies more generally to the series. Half-docu half-fiction, sometimes exciting and superficial at other times, the series only arouses moderate interest over its six episodes. One could also criticize This England for relying far too often on the acting of its main actor Kenneth Branagh, whose performance is closer to imitation than interpretation.

Makeup touching the grotesque, playful mimicry and pale vocal imitation of “BoJo”, the 61-year-old actor creates a new paradox in spite of himself, by delivering a caricatural performance within a series that wants to be as realistic as possible. As if we had chosen as the main actor of Baron Noir the Jacques Chirac of the Guignols de l’info, minus the sympathy capital.

Of this series undecided on many aspects, we cannot really decide: if it is clearly not missed, it is not really successful either. The truth is that its six episodes are effortless to watch, if tracing the thread of that not-so-distant era interests you, but don’t expect to learn anything you don’t already know by watching it.

Its desire to pay tribute to the victims, to the courage and the valor of the hospital staff, in opposition to the cynicism and the disconnection of the British authorities, make This England a complement to the fifth season of The Crown, of which it is also the perfect antithesis because of its ultra-realistic treatment.

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