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This England assessment: BBC drama is a searing portrait of Boris Johnson’s COVID response. It takes no prisoners

This England

Thursday, BBC First on Foxtel & Binge

Ever stopped to wonder who might play you in the TV biopic of your life? Don’t tell me you’ve never considered it. I’ve spent ages trying to figure out who could stunt-double for me in the event that I ever do anything interesting. Aniston? Witherspoon? If Ryan Murphy ever got hold of the rights, it would no doubt be Sarah Paulson — not sure how I feel about that.

For ex-British PM Boris Johnson, he needn’t look far: in This England, a new series that fictionalises the political high-drama that swirled as Britain attempted to tackle the COVID pandemic, Kenneth Branagh plays him. And he does such a good job that, dare I say it — he’s even more Boris than Boris himself!

If you were to line up both these men side by side, you’d be hard-pressed to pick which was which, such is the spot-on perfection of Branagh’s performance. Minx’s Ophelia Lovibond plays his wife Carrie, and she’s also terrific, absolutely nailing her plum-in-the-mouth, “bit-of-hot-totty” (Boris’ words, not mine) character.

This series — which is sure to cause ripples in the UK — is fantastic, but there’s something very disquieting about watching all the crazy stuff that’s played out in Britain over the past two years dramatised for TV. Many in the UK think it’s too early for such a searingly honest portrayal, and they may have a point. I can’t help thinking that if a script writer were to pitch this to a network, they’d be laughed out of the room, such is its implausibility.

But it all happened. It’s all true!

“2020 will be a year of prosperity, growth and hope,” says Kenneth, sorry Boris, in a scene set on New Year’s Eve 2019 — my eyes rolled so far back in my head, I almost choked.

This one’s for anyone who loves political high drama and first-rate doppleganger-ing. A must-see.

Jimmy Rees: Meanwhile in Australia

Jimmy Rees is bringing his stand-up show to Binge.
Camera IconJimmy Rees is bringing his stand-up show to Binge. Credit: Supplied/Binge./Binge.

Tuesday, streaming on Binge

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Jimmy do The Giggle Gallery on Giggle and Hoot and marvelled at how he keeps a straight face. Is that a tree? It sure looks like something else. Jimmy does a hilarious bit about this in his comedy special, which also features some of his best comic creations from social media, including ‘Jason’, ‘The Guy Who Decides’, plus those Braaaaghton Ladies and their ‘bobo darling’. A right giggle. And also a hoot.

Bali 2002

Rachel Griffiths and Renee Lim in a scene from Bali 2002
Camera IconRachel Griffiths and Renee Lim in a scene from Bali 2002 Credit: Supplied/Stan.

Tonight, streaming on Stan

This four-part series, starring Rachel Griffiths (as Perth’s own Fiona Wood), Claudia Jessie from Bridgerton and Richard Roxburgh, is a tough watch — the Bali Bombings still feel so recent. If you can get past ep one, there are some touchingly beautiful performances.

Hard Quiz

Hard Quiz returns to ABC for series seven.
Camera IconHard Quiz returns to ABC for series seven. Credit: Supplied/ABC

Wednesday, 8pm, ABC

Callum’s expert subject is Arnott’s biscuits. Rachel’s is 90s sitcom Father Ted. These people are my people! Seven series later, Hard Quiz still slaps … HARD. Excited for this series return.

Blonde

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.
Camera IconAna de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. Credit: Supplied/Netflix.

Wednesday, streaming on Netflix

I’m intrigued to see Ana de Armas playing Marilyn Monroe in this much-talked-about movie about the starlet’s storied life. It also stars Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody, and early chatter is that it’s worth a look.

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