'This England' viewers find reliving the pandemic a harrowing watch

Ep2: The government responds to the continuing rise of Covid 19 cases around the world
 
The UK prepares for rising Covid 19 cases, hospitals and care homes make plans on how to deal with the pandemic. Boris attends COBRA meeting as Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty outline covid cases data and present estimated fatality rates. Boris makes various media appearances to discuss Covid plans as cases continue to rise around the world and the situation worsens in Italy. Big sporting events go ahead as planned while scientific organisations urge that measures are brought in to contain the spread of the virus. Cabinet discusses potential lockdown, Cummings is told UK isn’t as far behind Italy as first thought.
Sir Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in This England. (Sky)

Pandemic drama This England has proved a traumatic watch for many viewers who found it a little too soon to relive the early days of COVID.

The Sky Atlantic series sees Sir Kenneth Branagh transformed into Boris Johnson and tracks the beginning of the pandemic, lockdown in the UK, and the decisions made by Johnson and his government.

Read more: This England director says Boris Johnson 'won't be flattered' by portrayal

But with events having taken place just two and a half years ago, for many it was too soon to be able to watch the very realistic portrayal as entertainment.

One viewer reflected on the tough memories it brought back, tweeting: "My God. Episode 3 of This England on Sky Atlantic. The care homes. The people we lost to Covid. The NHS staff who cared in impossible situations. The lack of PPE. Utterly compelling and heartbreaking."

Ep1: Boris Johnson wins the 2019 General Election as Covid 19 emerges in Asia and Europe

 

Boris Johnson wins the 2019 General Election and prepares for Government. Covid 19 emerges in Wuhan and cases rise in China, then spread across Asia and to Europe. Boris prepares for Britain leaving the European Union while scientists monitor the spread of Covid. Dominic Cummings makes plans to shake up the Civil Service and reform how the Government operates. Boris spends time at Chevening and Chequers as Covid spreads around the world and storms hit the UK. The situation in Italy escalates as hospitals in the north struggle with Covid cases, meanwhile the first cases are reported in the UK.
The COVID drama was uncomfortable viewing for many. (Sky)

Another person shared: "Painful to watch #ThisEngland. My father died in 2020 with the first Covid wave aged 86. Couldn’t see him, managed a phone call. No funeral. Nothing. We have his memorial next month. RIP to all who died and their loved ones. A truly terrible time for all."

Someone else wrote: "Impossible to watch #ThisEngland without feeling incredibly distressed at what we all went through and what so many lost, fury at the Government’s incompetence and mishandling of the pandemic, and anger at Boris Johnson. He must never hold public office again."

Read more: This England review - an eye-opening exposé

Others said that they found watching the period of history they had so recently lived through a surreal experience.

Ep2: The government responds to the continuing rise of Covid 19 cases around the world
 
The UK prepares for rising Covid 19 cases, hospitals and care homes make plans on how to deal with the pandemic. Boris attends COBRA meeting as Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty outline covid cases data and present estimated fatality rates. Boris makes various media appearances to discuss Covid plans as cases continue to rise around the world and the situation worsens in Italy. Big sporting events go ahead as planned while scientific organisations urge that measures are brought in to contain the spread of the virus. Cabinet discusses potential lockdown, Cummings is told UK isn’t as far behind Italy as first thought.
This England included many horribly familiar scenes. (Sky)

A viewer tweeted: "This England is fascinating with a great performance from Kenneth Branagh. Looking back on the early days of Covid though it feels more than ever like something out of a sci-fi film. It feels surreal despite having lived through it."

Someone else agreed: "Watching #ThisEngland & it can easily be compared to an unimaginable horror movie. Crazy to think we lived through those times #pandemic #BorisJohnson Surreal.."

Many viewers praised Sir Kenneth's work portraying Johnson, which they thought was uncomfortably convincing, and Sky shared a video of how he had been transformed into the former PM through hair and make up.

One viewer wrote: "Kenneth Branagh is absolutely fabulous in #ThisEngland. Great acting, but very uncomfortable viewing."

However, for some it proved simply too much for an evening's viewing.

One person wrote: "Started watching #ThisEngland but quickly realised I don’t want to see Boris Johnson humanised, all domestic scenes and a jovial presence in no. 10. He hasn’t been gone long enough for me to want to relive 2020."

Someone else commented: "Tried to watch #ThisEngland but Branagh is such a convincing Boris Johnson, I’m getting annoyed and cringing, so I’ve switched it off."

Watch: Sir Kenneth Branagh transforms into Boris Johnson in This England trailer