See the press release and MM's interview (from Official Press Pack) via ITV below...
Michael Gambon and Lindsay Duncan star as Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Churchill in this feature length film, Churchill’s Secret.
Romola Garai (The Hour, Legacy) takes the part of nurse Millie Appleyard and Churchill’s adult children are played by Matthew Macfadyen (Ripper Street, The Enfield Haunting) as Randolph Churchill, Daisy Lewis (Downton Abbey) as Mary Churchill, Rachael Stirling (The Bletchley Circle, Detectorists) as Sarah Churchill and Tara Fitzgerald (Game of Thrones, In the Club) as Diana Churchill.
Set during the summer months of 1953 Churchill—now Prime Minister for the second time and in his late 70’s—suffers a life-‐threatening stroke, which is kept secret from the world.
Told from the viewpoint of his young Nurse, Millie Appleyard , the drama follows his battle to recover as his long suffering wife Clemmie, desperately hopes the stroke will force Winston to retire while his political friends and foe scheme to plot who will succeed him.
Meanwhile his adult children descend on Chartwell, unsure if he will pull through, as tensions within his family begin to surface.
Further cast includes Bill Paterson (Outlander, Law & Order: UK ) as Lord Moran, James Wilby as Lord Bracken (The Great Train Robbery, Endeavour ), Alex Jennings as Anthony Eden (Foyle’s War Silk), Patrick Kennedy (Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire) as Jock Colville, Christian McKay (Rush, Borgia) as Christopher Soames, Chris Larkin (Doctors, Yes, Prime Minister) as Rab Butler and John Standing (Borgia, The Other Wife ) as Lord Camrose.
Daybreak Pictures, part of the Tinopolis Group, produce the drama with Executive Producers Hal Vogel and David Aukin overseeing production.
Churchill’s Secret is co-produced with MASTERPIECE, where Rebecca Eaton is Executive Producer. It will air in the US on PBS in 2016.
Based on Jonathan Smith’s recently published book, The Churchill Secret: KBO , the drama is adapted by Stewart Harcourt (Love & Marriage, Treasure Island, Poirot ).
The 120’ film is directed by Charles Sturridge ( Da Vinci’s Demons, The Scapegoat, The Road to Corona9on Street ) with Timothy Bricknell ( From There to Here, The Fear, Eric & Ernie ) producing.
Churchill’s Secret is a Daybreak Pictures/MASTERPIECE Co-production.
Matthew Macfadyen is Randolph Churchill
Q: Who was Randolph Churchill?
“Randolph Churchill was Winston Churchill’s only son and a sad figure in a way. It’s a very difficult thing trying to live up to a father like that. Randolph went into politics and wasn’t terribly successful. He also had a terrible relationship with alcohol and died aged 57 in 1968.
“But the lovely thing about the Churchill’s Secret script is you see moments of vulnerability. He wants his father to think of him as a success. But it was an impossible act to follow. Randolph was mocked in public. He had a tumour removed. It turned out to be benign and Evelyn Waugh wrote, ‘A typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it.’”
Q: Did you research his life?
“It was all in the script but I did do some research online and looked at a lot of photographs. It’s the relationships that are important in this, so you don’t feel as if you’re doing a historical piece at all. It’s about a family so it works without knowing very much about Churchill. With added extra interest for those who do know the history.”
Q: Can you describe Randolph’s relationship with his family?
“It’s a mixture of frustration and disappointment. Wanting to please and feeling like your mother is hogging their father from the children. Something that one of his sisters Diana feels as well. When Winston is very ill, lots of things come out within the family. That’s what’s interesting about it.
“You have this impossible act to follow. Someone you both resent and adore. Very difficult. Like the children of megastar musicians or movie stars. It must be very peculiar. Churchill was an iconic, mythologised figure in an age before celebrity.
“Hopefully the audience will have a little sympathy for Randolph. He was obviously not in a good place. Certainly not in this film. He turns up and is terribly upset about his father’s illness. He doesn’t know how to deal with it and is full of anger and bitterness. But you see the vulnerability.”
Q: Winston is described as ‘bloody-minded’. Do you agree?
“That’s wonderfully comforting. I have to remind myself of that as an actor, because it’s hard. It’s not like the reviews come and go away. They are there forever. And any interview you’ve done where you’ve been misrepresented, it’s there forever as a reference in the ether, on the internet. So it’s nice to think about people like this because it reminds you that all of that is nonsense and fluff.”
Q: What was Winston like as a man?
“There are people with that almost maniacal energy and self-belief. But often their nearest and dearest suffer because of it. Like his wife Clemmie. People like that are totally selfish when they are doing their own thing. I read that Winston had written in dictation and letters and notes and books and so on more than Shakespeare and Dickens combined over his life. He had two secretaries and was constantly dictating day and night. That’s what made him tick.”
Q: Why was Winston such a great orator?
“Maybe it’s a combination of charisma and presence. And wit. I think you know it when you see it. You know on a gut level. It’s like a child knows. You know when someone is telling the truth.”
Q: You have worked with Michael Gambon before?
“I’ve worked with Michael Gambon twice before. That was a big factor in taking this role. Apart from anything else he has this wonderful instrument - his voice and his body and his big face and eyes - and he has a great wit and intelligence. He’s lovely. I did a Poliakoff TV drama called Perfect Strangers with him and we played father and son. Then we did Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at the National Theatre playing Hal and Falstaff.
“So it was nice to do this. I’ve got a scene today with Michael and he’s in bed. He’ll be messing around and making me laugh. I’ve loved working on Churchill’s Secret with lots of friends in the cast. You turn up and it’s like a party.”
Q: What was filming at Chartwell like?
“That was great. I’d never been to Chartwell before so it was fascinating. It’s very special to film there with a beautiful view over the Kent countryside. Winston loved it.”
For more info. Download Churchill's Secret ITV Press Pack here.
Confirmed: Churchill's Secret (starring Michael Gambon) broadcasts Sunday 28 February at 8pm on ITV pic.twitter.com/JuHbet4mZn— ITV Press Centre (@itvpresscentre) February 17, 2016