Brexit (working title) is an utterly timely and compelling new political thriller (1×120’) from Olivier and RTS-winning screenwriter James Graham (Quiz, Ink, This House, The Vote, Tory Boyz, Coalition). Unpacking the anatomy of the historic, high-stakes campaign to win the hearts and minds of the British people, this one-off drama set primarily during the referendum will, for the first time, explore the myriad tactics employed to swing one of the most surprising referendum results in living memory. Directed by the award-winning Toby Haynes (Black Mirror, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sherlock), this new drama will explore the data-driven political campaign behind one of the most contested, controversial government referendums in modern history.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Doctor Strange, The Imitation Game, The Hollow Crown) stars as Dominic Cummings, the leading strategist and Campaign Director of Vote Leave.
At a time when the ethics, legalities and political impact of data-mining has never been more debated, and when investigations examining possible links between Vote Leave’s campaign and data companies are making front page news, Brexit is a profoundly timely drama that brings into sharp focus the many weapons used in today’s political battlegrounds.
From political strategists and pollsters to disrupters and provocateurs – the decisions taken and platforms set out during those eight weeks in the summer of 2016 have had reverberations throughout British politics and across the globe like no other event since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Going beyond the well-known public appearances of famous faces to peak instead behind the curtain, Brexit (w/t) will explore the anatomy of a modern data-driven election campaign, and the divisive figures driving it from the shadows.
Venturing from high street campaigning to top level political influence, and then stepping even further into the darker corners of the internet, Brexit sets out not to be an analysis of who was right and who was wrong, but rather is the story of how it happened, and why.
James Graham, writer, says: “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. 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. To work with this incredible team and Channel 4 to bring this story to life on screen is a real honour.”
Beth Willis, Head of Drama at Channel 4, says: “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.”
Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross from House Productions, say: “We are thrilled to have Benedict at the centre of James’ brilliant, searching response to the Brexit vote – James is a writer who is unafraid to ask difficult questions and has never stopped looking for uncomfortable truths at this complicated time in our history. And we’re hugely excited that Toby Haynes will be directing this film for Channel 4.”
Brexit is commissioned for Channel 4 by Beth Willis, Head of Drama. The film is written by award-winning playwright James Graham. Executive Producers are Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross for their company House Productions. The film will be produced by Lynn Horsford and will begin shooting later this year.