Grantchester and Line of Duty stars to appear in new Channel 4 drama – and it sounds gripping

Channel 4 logo
Channel 4 logo (Channel 4)

Grantchester star Charlotte Ritchie and Line of Duty actor Craig Parkinson are set to appear in Channel 4's new drama, Partygate.

The upcoming series is a dramatisation of the controversial scandal that occured inside No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlotte and Craig feature in a star-studded cast, which includes Fleabag's Hugh Skinner, Elementary's Ophelia Lovibond and impressionist Jon Culshaw, who will portray Boris Johnson.

EastEnders actor Phil Daniels and The Crown's Rebecca Humphries will also appear, alongside Tom Durant-Pritchard, Anthony Calf, Alice Lowe, Kimberley Nixon, Alice Orr-Ewing, Naomi Battrick, Edwin Flay and Georgie Henley.

charlotte ritchie you
Grantchester and You star Charlotte Ritchie will appear in the series (Photo: Netflix)

The docudrama will tell the "real, untold story" behind the scandal, "juxtaposing the revelry inside the nation's seat of power with the hardship and sacrifice being experienced across the rest of the country."

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Channel 4 teases: "As the horrors of COVID unfolded – three national lockdowns, PPE, 40,000 care home deaths, socially distanced funerals, a peak of more than 1,000 dead a day by January 2021 – Downing Street staff kicked back at a string of parties lubricated by quantities of alcohol."

Craig Parkinson as DS Norman Potting in Grace
Craig Parkinson will appear in Partygate (ITV)

In a statement, Channel 4's chief content officer Ian Katz said: "This is a slate of programmes that shows Channel 4 is as disruptive, original and purposeful as it has ever been.

"From holding politicians to account over partygate to examining the vexed debate over gender identity, from exposing the unspoken side-effects of the pill to seeking solutions to avert climate disaster, these are shows that speak to the concerns of young British viewers and create real world impact."

Alice Orr-Ewing in Sanditon
Sanditon star Alice Orr-Ewing features in the cast (Photographer: Rob Youngson)

The series comes from the makers of the BAFTA-winning dramas Killed by my Debt, The Left Behind and Murdered by my Father. A release date has yet to be announced.

This isn't the first time the inner workings of No 10 during the coronavirus pandemic have been dramatised for the small screen.

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Sky's This England depicted Boris Johnson's tumultuous first months as Prime Minister during the first wave of the pandemic, with Kenneth Branaugh starring as Johnson. Ophelia Lovibond, who will play a Special Advisor in Channel 4's new drama, appeared as Carrie Johnson in the miniseries.

Ophelia Lovibond
Ophelia Lovibond has also been cast in the series

What happened in the Partygate scandal?

In November 2021, it was reported that the staff at No 10 Downing Street held a Christmas party in 2020 despite lockdown restrictions. Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied the reports.

A video of a mock press conference was released soon after, which saw Downing Street Press Secretary Allegra Stratton joke about the party with another senior staff member.

Carrie Johnson standing with Boris Johnson
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured with his wife Carrie (Sean Gallup)

Allegra resigned from her position and civil servant Sue Gray launched a Cabinet Office inquiry into the scandal. In her report, which looked into 15 events between May 2020 and April 2021, she found "a serious failure" to abide by the "standards expected of the entire British population", with "excessive alcohol consumption" taking place at several events in 2020.

She also concluded that Johnson had attended eight of the events, alongside other senior government officials.