Channel 4 Commissions Brian and Margaret from James Graham


Channel 4 has ordered Brian and Margaret, written by James Graham (Sherwood, Quiz, Brexit: The Uncivil War), from Baby Cow Productions (This Time with Alan Partridge, Chivalry).

Based on political editor and TV producer Rob Burley’s book Why is This Lying Bastard Lying to Me: Searching for the Truth on Political TV, the drama delves into the final TV interview of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and journalist Brian Walden, which became a national talking point and ultimately led to Thatcher’s resignation. Steve Coogan (The Reckoning, Philomena) and Harriet Walter (Succession, Ted Lasso, Silo) are attached to star.

In 1989, the “much feared inquisitor” Walden and “Iron Lady” Thatcher, who were also old friends, came together for their last-ever TV interview, which became one of the most infamous political exchanges of all time. The 45-minute showdown set in motion a series of events that ended with the Prime Minister’s resignation. After, they never spoke again.

The series is being directed by Stephen Frears (A Very English Scandal, Florence Foster Jenkins). BBC Studios will handle international distribution.

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

“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,” Walter said.

Graham commented, “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 Bastard 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 [the] audience will be surprised by a lot of it. I know I was.”

“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,” said Sarah Monteith, CEO of Baby Cow Productions. “This story may leave many wishing for a return to the TV interviewing rigor that once underpinned our democracy.”

Ollie Madden, director of Film 4 and head of Channel 4 drama, added, “We were gripped by James Graham’s timely and hugely entertaining scripts, which offer a fascinating portrait of Brian Walden’s unusual but very close relationship with Margaret Thatcher, and the interview which came to be seen as a major turning point in the way politicians interact with the media. Who better to direct than Stephen Frears, with his amazing cast in Harriet Walter and Steve Coogan, and supported by the expert team at Baby Cow. We are delighted to have this unique drama on Channel 4.”