“MASTERPIECE: CHURCHILL’S SECRET” BASED ON AN UNSUNG INCIDENT FROM THE PRIME MINISTER’S FAMOUS LIFE
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“MASTERPIECE: CHURCHILL’S SECRET”
BASED ON AN UNSUNG INCIDENT FROM THE PRIME MINISTER’S FAMOUS LIFE
Starring Michael Gambon and Romola Garai
Available on DVD from PBS Distribution September 13
Airs on Sunday September 11 (check local listings)
Arlington, Va. – July 15, 2016 – PBS Distribution announced today it will be releasing “MASTERPIECE: CHURCHILL’S SECRET” on DVD. Michael Gambon (Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy) plays the greatest statesman of the twentieth century in his most difficult hour: a debilitating stroke which he seeks to hide from the world.
Based on a true incident in the life of Winston Churchill and directed by three-time Emmy® nominee Charles Sturridge (Shackleton, Brideshead Revisited), “CHURCHILL’S SECRET” co-stars Romola Garai (The Hour), Lindsay Duncan (Sherlock), Bill Paterson (Little Dorrit), Matthew Macfadyen (Any Human Heart), Tara Fitzgerald (Jane Eyre), Rachel Stirling (The Bletchley Circle), Daisy Lewis (Downton Abbey), Alex Jennings (Silk), and a host of other brilliant actors.
“CHURCHILL’S SECRET” will be available on DVD September 13, 2016. The run time of the program is approximately 111 minutes on 1 disc. The DVD SRP is $34.99. The program will also be available for digital download.
The drama is an adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s acclaimed 2015 novel, The Churchill Secret: KBO, which was hailed as “delightful, funny, heart-warming” by The Mail on Sunday (London) and praised for its “elegance and wit” by The New Statesman (London). “KBO” in the book’s title stands for Churchill’s favorite advice in the face of adversity: “keep buggering on.”
The action opens in the summer of 1953. Churchill, age 78, is prime minister for the second time and as pugnacious as ever—until he is felled by a severe stroke while hosting a state dinner at 10 Downing Street. Lady Churchill (Duncan) manages to conceal the seriousness of her husband’s sudden incapacity, while he is evaluated by his personal physician, Lord Moran (Paterson), and later transported in worsening condition to his country home, Chartwell.
Summoned to care for the apparently dying prime minister is a remarkable young nurse, Millie Appleyard (Garai), who treats the world’s most famous man as she would any other difficult patient: with compassion, firmness, and occasional indulgence. In the weeks that follow, the two bond over the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, whose celebrated poem, “Invictus” (Latin for “unconquered”), helps inspire Churchill to relearn to speak, stand, and walk.
He is also determined to hold onto the reins of power, and the program tells the astonishing story of a bedridden, incapacitated leader who plots to outwit the high government officials who are maneuvering to replace him. Chief among these is Anthony Eden (Jennings), Churchill’s right-hand man and designated successor.
Then there is Churchill’s family, of whom Lord Moran observes, “There’s a price to pay for greatness, but the great seldom pay it themselves.” Those who paid were Churchill’s children, who grew up in the permanent shadow of their exuberant and ambitious father. When Diana (Fitzgerald), Randolph (Macfadyen), Sarah (Stirling), and Mary (Lewis) arrive at Chartwell to comfort their stricken parent, all except Mary fall to bickering and boozing— hardly an environment conducive to convalescence.
Through it all, Lady Churchill tries to keep the family peace and above all save some portion of her husband’s declining years for herself—far away from the demands of war and politics. As for Winston, a strange vision and a hit song haunt him from the early 1920s: “I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.” What could it mean?
“CHURCHILL’S SECRET” is a Daybreak Pictures/MASTERPIECE coproduction for ITV. The director is Charles Sturridge. The producer is Timothy Bricknell. The Executive Producers are Hal Vogel and David Aukin for Daybreak Pictures and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE at WGBH Boston. Based on the book The Churchill Secret: KBO, written by author Jonathan Smith, “CHURCHILL’S SECRET” is adapted for film by Stewart Harcourt.
The top-rated primetime show on PBS, MASTERPIECE is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is Executive Producer. Funding for the series is provided by Viking River Cruises and Audible with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The MASTERPIECE Trust. MASTERPIECE is known for presenting iconic shows such as Upstairs Downstairs, Prime Suspect, The Forsyte Saga, Poldark, Sherlock and Downton Abbey.
About PBS Distribution
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PBS Distribution offers a broad range of high quality content in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, and digital streaming. PBS International offers factual content for broadcast, cable, and satellite services internationally. The PBS Distribution catalog includes films from Ken Burns, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programming.
MASTERPIECE: CHURCHILL’S SECRET
Street Date: September 13, 2016
Run Time: Approx. 111 Minutes on 1 Disc
SRP: DVD $34.99