Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes to play husband and wife John and Barbara Stonehouse in true drama

Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse. (Joss Barratt/ITV)
Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse. (Joss Barratt/ITV)

Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes are set to play married couple John and Barbara Stonehouse in Stonehouse, a new ITV drama about the politician's disappearance as he faked his own death.

Macfadyen and Hawes, who are married in real life and met on the set of Spooks, will tell the fascinating story of Stonehouse's plot to disappear presumed dead and start a new life in Australia with his mistress – and how it all went wrong.

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Stonehouse, a high-flying member of Harold Wilson’s government, vanished from the beach of a large luxury hotel in Florida in November 1974, leaving a neatly folded pile of clothes as he swam into the sea.

He left behind wife Barbara and three young children as he was presumed drowned or eaten by sharks, but his true plan emerged when he was later found.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Keeley Hawes and Matthew Macfadyen attend the
The couple have starred together a few times. (WireImage)

Succession star Macfadyen said: "What happened to John Stonehouse is the stuff of legend. I’ve always been intrigued by what motivated him to fake his own death, and leave behind the family he loved and doted upon and a promising political career.

"John Preston’s script truly captures the man and his colourful life and I’m looking forward to taking on his character."

Hawes (It's A Sin, The Missing) will play his devoted wife Barbara who makes the devastating discovery that he had been having an affair with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, and acted as a spy for the Czech secret service in the 1960s.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/05/12: Keeley Hawes and Matthew MacFadyen are seen on the red carpet during the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards at The Royal Festival Hall in London. (Photo by Gary Mitchell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Keeley Hawes and Matthew MacFadyen will play the Stonehouses. (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The charismatic and charming politician had seemed like a real star of the Labour party, but it emerged that he had stolen the identity of a dead constituent to set up his new life in Australia.

He was eventually caught by Australian police who thought that he was the fugitive peer Lord Lucan, and his precarious financial status was also exposed.

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Brought back to the UK by Scotland Yard detectives, Stonehouse found that he was crucial to keeping the Labour government in power with its wafer-thin majority.

The drama will also star Emer Heatley (Showtrial) as Stonehouse’s mistress Sheila Buckley, Kevin R McNally (The Crown, Unforgotten) as Harold Wilson, Dorothy Atkinson (All Creatures Great and Small, Mum) as Betty Boothroyd and Igor Grabuzov (Voskresenskiy, No Looking Back).

Macfadyen and Hawes have also previously appeared together in Death at a Funeral and Ashes to Ashes.

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