A brand new six-part TV sequence concerning the begin of Boris Johnson’s premiership and the Covid disaster landed on Sky Atlantic final evening amid blended critiques. 

Starring Kenneth Branagh because the then prime minister, This England is TV “at its most triggering”, mentioned Hollie Richardson in The Guardian. 

However whereas Branagh’s efficiency was extensively reward, some critics argued that Michael Winterbottom’s new drama was made and broadcast too quickly after the pandemic.

‘Uncanny’ resemblance?

Branagh is “sickeningly correct” as Johnson, mentioned Richardson. Rachel Cooke in The New Statesman agreed that Branagh completely mimics the previous Tory chief’s “striding stoop and gibbon arm-swing”.

The Occasions’ Carol Midgley additionally lauded Branagh’s “barrelling, air-punching, at occasions uncanny” impression of the then PM. “Particular mentions” should go to Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds (later Johnson), Midgley added, and to Simon Paisley Day as Dominic Cummings. And Andrew Buchan’s voice as Matt Hancock “is so convincing it’s as if he’s within the room (lock up your wives!)”.

However not everybody was satisfied by the star of the present. In response to Anita Singh in The Telegraph, the results of Branagh’s heavy prosthetic make-up “doesn’t seem like Johnson” however somewhat “bizarre and creepy”, although he “does a half-decent job on the voice”.

‘An inexplicable resolution’

Whereas the critiques are usually constructive concerning the performances within the information sequence, “ought to Sky have recognized higher than to air it now?” requested Robert Jackman in The Spectator. The present, additionally launched on streaming service Now, has arrived “at precisely the identical time that British politics enters its personal cliffhanger mode with drama that would rival any season finale”, Jackman wrote.

Branagh has steered that “any manner of understanding” the pandemic higher “is necessary”. However “on these phrases”, mentioned the BBC’s Neil Armstrong, “This England is a failure”.

As a nation, we’re “nonetheless coming to phrases with the occasions depicted on display”, he continued, so the “rapidity with which this was made appears weird”.

This England is “partaking and well-paced” with a “unbelievable” solid, wrote Radio Occasions’ James Hibbs, “however think about if this sequence had been saved away like a time capsule, solely to be unveiled for the primary time in 5, ten or 15 years”. It could be “arguably extra impactful and suave”, Hibbs argued.

The criticisms concerning the timing of the sequence have been challenged by Branagh’s co-star Lovibond. “It’s like making an attempt to jot down a diary entry per week later – you may’t bear in mind the specifics,” she advised Digital Spy. “So one thing like that is on such a grander scale, I personally assume it’s necessary to file issues whereas they’re nonetheless contemporary in your reminiscence.”

The Unbiased’s Nick Hilton remained unconvinced. “The rendering of the depressing previous two years as a type of leisure was an inexplicable resolution,” he wrote, “and the botched execution is just a by-product of that central commissioning error.”