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Steve Coogan stars in major new Stephen Frears drama

Channel 4 has commissioned a new drama from Baby Cow Productions about Margaret Thatcher’s final television interview with Brian Walden.

Brian and Margaret is directed by Stephen Frears (A Very English Scandal, Florence Foster Jenkins, Philomena) and written by RTS award-winner James Graham (Sherwood, Quiz, Brexit: The Uncivil War), it’s based on Rob Burley’s book Why is This Lying Bastard Lying to Me: Searching for the Truth on Political TV.

Steve Coogan will star alongside Harriet Walter (Succession, Ted Lasso, Silo), with the drama asking whether the slow death of full-length political TV interviews puts modern democracy at risk.

“It’s great to be telling a story from the era of the sorely missed forensic interview – two giants of their time locking horns to determine the future of Britain,” said Coogan.

“To act opposite Harriet Walter with a script by James Graham directed by Stephen Frears is a challenge of the very best kind!”

The interview took place in 1989, as Walden (Coogan), and Margaret Thatcher (Harriet Walter), embarked on one of the most infamous political exchanges of all time. The 45 minutes became a national talking point and started a series of events, which ultimately led to Thatcher’s resignation.

The two old friends never spoke again.

“I have to travel a great distance to reach Maggie Thatcher but with James’s brilliant script, Stephen Frears to guide me and Steve Coogan to accompany me I have the dream team to help me achieve it,” said Walter.

James Graham added: 

“I’m beyond excited to be working with this incredible world-class team on a story brought to us by Rob Burley from his book ‘Why Is This Lying B*stard Lying To Me’. As we enter another election, and wrestle with the importance and effectiveness of the ‘political interview’, it’s a chance to bring to life the intimate and complicated relationship between Brian Walden and Margaret Thatcher – interrogator, and Prime Minister. An epic one of love and betrayal, and I think an audience will be surprised by a lot of it. I know I was.”

The 2×60 minute drama has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Ollie Madden, Director of Film 4 and Head of Channel 4 Drama alongside Ben Wadey, Drama Commissioning Executive. Executive producers are Sarah Monteith (The Ballad of Wallis Island, Changing Ends, Chivalry), Delyth Scudamore (Toxic Town, A Very British Scandal), Rupert Majendie (The Ballad of Wallis Island, Brian and Charles). Dan Winch (Black Mirror, Quiz, A Very English Scandal) is the producer. 

BBC Studios, which owns Baby Cow, is the international distributor of the series.

“Baby Cow are proud to be making this important drama with the very best of British talent, bringing this extraordinary relationship in British politics to a new generation. This story may leave many wishing for a return to the TV interviewing rigour that once underpinned our democracy,” said Sarah Monteith, CEO Baby Cow Productions.

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