Michael Winterbottom temporarily steps back from COVID drama due to poor health

The filmmaker is recovering from poor health

Michael Winterbottom has temporarily stepped away from directing COVID drama This Sceptred Isle.

The Greed filmmaker has stopped directing the Sky series due to ill health, but will now continue to work remotely while recovering, the broadcaster told Variety.

Julian Jarrold, who recently worked on The Crown, is taking over from Winterbottom until his full return. Variety have not disclosed the nature of Winterbottom’s illness.


This Sceptred Isle will tell the story of Britain’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in the first few months of the pandemic, with Kenneth Branagh playing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The five-episode series will include Johnson’s hospitalisation after contracting the virus last March.

Check out the first photo of Branagh as Johnson here:

In a statement last year, Winterbottom said: “The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. “A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever of the importance of community.

“Our series weaves together countless true stories — from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to frontline workers around the country — chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policymakers to protect us from the virus.”


The show promises to “tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the United Kingdom, and of a Prime Minister leading in these unprecedented times.”

This Sceptred Isle will be released in on Sky in autumn 2022.