Stonehouse: real-life daughter of MP Julia hits out at 'offensive' drama

The daughter of John Stonehouse MP who is the subject of ITV's new three-part drama, Stonehouse, has hit out at the new series, branding it "offensive".

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Writing in an opinion piece for the Guardian, Julia Stonehouse states how the TV show was full of "untruths" when re-telling the story of her father who faked his own death back in the 1970s.

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Stonehouse, which stars Succession actor Matthew Macfadyen and Bodyguard's Keeley Hawes, has been described by Julia as the "latest in a long line that mixes fact with fiction".

She writes: "For me, these questions are not abstract, nor are they the stuff of entertainment. John Stonehouse was my father." Julia adds further: "Preston decided to explain my father's bizarre behaviour as being that of a hapless fool. That portrayal is offensive to my family because it makes fun of a very real mental breakdown."

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Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen and Emer Heatley pose for Stonehouse official photo
Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen and Emer Heatley pose for Stonehouse official photo

The ITV drama states "some scenes and characters have been imagined"

The daughter also sets out to explain the truth behind the story. "In 1976, men's mental health wasn't discussed and nobody yet knew that Mandrax, the prescribed drug my father had been overusing for years, caused depression, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, poor decision-making and an increased risk of suicide."

However, in defense of the drama, the creators behind the show insist: "This drama is based on a true story. Some scenes and characters have been imagined for dramatic purposes."

Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse in episode one
Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse in episode one

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In another interview, John Preston, the creator, explained that he had had a brief meeting with Julia in the past, but that he respected that the family did not want any involvement in the TV show.

"I never wanted to judge Stonehouse or hold him up to ridicule or anything like that. I really just wanted to understand how someone could get themselves into this terrible mess. I wanted to be as sympathetic as possible to everyone involved and so I hope that no one is treated particularly harshly in it, actually.

"For all his many flaws as a character, there is an air of innocence about [Stonehouse]. He was a bit of a romantic and saw himself as this kind of Don Quixote figure and there's a lot of sadness there as well. I just really wanted to give equal weight to all those things."

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