A very belated return to my film-related gossip column.
Kenneth Branagh has been cast as Boris Johnson in a TV drama about the UK Prime Minister’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be directed and co-written by Michael Winterbottom (‘A Cock and a Bull Story’ (2005)) while Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman will serve as a consultant.
Beginning with him being sworn in as Prime Minister, this five-part drama will recount the first cases of Covid in the UK, through to Johnson falling ill from the virus and the arrival of his son.
The series will trace the impact of the pandemic on Britain and the response to it from scientists, doctors and nurses. It will be based on the first-hand testimony of individuals within 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and hospitals and care homes across the country.
Winterbottom stated about the series: “The first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever about the importance of community.
“Our series weaves together countless true stories - from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to frontline workers around the country - chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policymakers to protect us from the virus”.
From the pics, Branagh certainly has Boris’ bleached blonde hair which has been balding as of late. However, he’ll need to either pile on the pounds or don a fat suit to truly convince as Britain’s populist Prime Minister. Gary Oldman did that when he played Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’ (2018).
I also wonder whether it’s a bit soon to be making a movie about the pandemic. Just like I wondered whether ‘United 93’ (2006) should have been made in 2006 - so soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Does it seem a bit distasteful to remake recent history? ‘United 93’ is a great film, though, so hopefully ‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be a worthy depiction of pandemic Britain. Fingers crossed.
Daniel as the Doctor
The Mirror have reported that Jodie Whittaker has quit the role of the Thirteenth Doctor in everyone’s favourite time-travelling Sci-Fi show ‘Dr.Who’ (1963-). The report suggests that Whittaker will be stepping down from the role after the end of the upcoming 13th season. If she does so, she joins former Doctors David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in quitting the role after three series.
The odds are already out on who will replace Jodie with bookmakers Betfair lining up the red-hot favourites for the two-hearted Time Lord and his TARDIS. Currently ‘My Family’ and ‘Citizan Khan’ star Kris Marshall is the no.1 favourite with odds of 3/1 followed by ‘The Falling’s Maxine Peake and ‘Game of Thrones’ beauty Natalie Dormer both at 8/1.
I’m more interested, however, in a report by ‘We Got This Covered’ that ‘Get Out, ‘Widows’ and ‘Black Panther’ star Daniel Kaluuya is under consideration for the role.
Now, we’re still in early days and the BBC have refused to comment on the report that Jodie is quitting, but the prospect of Daniel Kaluuya as the 14th Doctor really excites me. He’s a terrific actor - so brilliant in ‘Get Out’ (for which he was Oscar-nominated), ‘Widows’ and ‘Queen and Slim’ last year. His casting would make him almost (and no spoilers here) the first Black Doctor.
I think this would be terrific ground to follow on from the first female Doctor. I just can’t see the Beeb going back to just casting a white male in the lead role again. It would look like they were backtracking on their established political correctness - a notion of “we’ve been a bit PC for two years, so now we can go back to being traditional and reactionary”. On the contrary, the first Black Doctor would be a great step for racial diversity and I’m sure Kaluuya would give a terrific performance as he always does.
Carey’s not hot enough
Carey Mulligan has hit out at a sexist review which basically branded her not hot enough for the lead role in awards frontrunner ‘Promising Young Woman’ (2021).
In ‘Promising Young Woman’, Mulligan plays a woman avenging her raped best friend. The Variety review of the film by film critic Dennis Harvey reads “Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly mult-layered femme fatale - Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems put-on”.
When speaking recently as part of a Variety video series, Mulligan said: “I feel it’s important that criticism is constructive. I think it’s important we are looking at the right things when it comes to work, and we’re looking at the art and we’re looking at the performance.
“And I don’t think that goes to the appearance of the actor or your personal preference for what an actor does or doesn’t look like - which I felt that article did.
“I think in criticising or bemoaning a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character, it wasn’t a personal slight. It didn’t wound my ego, but it made me concerned that in such a big publication an actress’s appearance could be criticised and it could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism”.
Margot Robbie may be conventionally hotter than Carey Mulligan, but Mulligan is the better actress. The awards clearly think so too as the Golden Globes recently awarded her Best Actress. She was right to call out this sexist and lookist review from an obviously very bigoted male critic. I just wish more women would too. #MeToo…
Sex and the City is back?!
I attracted some criticism recently when I said that the news that the return of ‘Sex and the City’ - the most toxic show on telly - was the worst news of that week. It was supposedly insensitive to the thousands of Covid deaths being reported.
Of course, I don’t think ‘Sex and the City’ coming back to TV is as bad as millions dying from Covid, but I do think the criticism was a bit of an overreaction. In the words of Jim Davidson, “it’s comedy, get a life and get your shoulders back on”...
Anyway back to the news. ‘Sex and the City’ will return for 10 half-hour episodes. But there is a catch - ladies contain yourselves! Kim Cattrall - who is the only Brit on the show and the least vile of the leading four - won’t be returning for the new series when it airs on HBO Max.
HBO didn’t say why Cattrall, who plays Samantha, won’t be returning in the new show entitled ‘And Just Like That’ (a reference to one of the show’s original catchphrases). However she has had a pretty tricky relationship with the show in recent years and with the hideous Sarah Jessica Parker in particular.
She specifically said there was a “toxic relationship” with her co-stars. This was when she ruled out appearing in a 3rd ‘Sex and the City’ movie. I just want to highlight the word “toxic” because, to be honest, that couldn’t be a better fitting way to describe the show and perhaps Cattrall realised just how toxic it was and decided to walk out.
All the characters on this show are the definition of vile - VILE, VILE, VILE, VILE! The news of the show’s return makes me want to insert pointed matchsticks under my fingernails. That would be more fun than watching ‘Sex and the City’ and I’m not joking this time…
Chris quits Warner Bros.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Nolan - one of Hollywood’s greatest directors - is “unlikely” to work with Warner Bros. again.
He cites the fallout with the studio over their decision to release their entire 2021 movie slate on to HBO Max as the reason for his departure. The controversy generated by the decision isn’t necessarily Warner Bros. choosing to release its movies simultaneously on the popular streaming service with their theatrical release, but more that the studio didn’t consult and discuss its plans with any of the filmmakers operating under the banner.
Since 2005’s ‘Batman Begins’, Nolan’s films have raked in $5.6 billion at the global Box Office with Warner Bros. also putting out ‘Insomnia’ (2002), ‘The Prestige’ (2006), ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), ‘Inception (2010), ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012), ‘Interstellar’ (2014), ‘Dunkirk’ (2017) and ‘Tenet’ (2020). Nolan’s departure is a great loss for Warner Bros. Not only is he currently the world’s 8th most bankable filmmaker, but the only one of them spending over $200 million making original, thought-provoking content. A terrible shame…
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
1. A Quiet Place: Part II (in cinemas)
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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