Dear England playwright to alter ending depending on Euro 2024 result

An England win at this summer’s tournament could affect the ending of Olivier-winning play

Nicole Vassell
Tuesday 04 June 2024 10:44 BST
Southgate promises to give England's Euro 2024 squad selection 'respect and consideration' it deserves

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The playwright of football play Dear England has announced plans to alter the ending of the show depending on the outcome of this summer’s Euros.

After its debut at London’s National Theatre last June, Dear England will return to the stage next spring before a four-week run at the Lowry in Salford.

Later this month, the quadrennial European men’s football tournament kicks off in Munich with 24 teams battling for the win.

If the England team is victorious, it will likely lead to a rewrite of the play, which tells the story of the squad on their way to the 2022 World Cup under manager Gareth Southgate.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but in terms of the talent we have this feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring it home at last,” writer James Graham told The Guardian.

“I’ll be changing the play depending on what happens, and I don’t quite know what that will look like.”

In the play, the action concludes after Harry Kane misses a penalty against France, bringing the team’s hopes to a heartbreaking close.

However, England are among the favourites to win after beating Bosnia at Monday’s warmup game (3 June) and ahead of facing Iceland at Wembley on Friday 7 June.

Joseph Fiennes (foreground) and the cast of ‘Dear England'
Joseph Fiennes (foreground) and the cast of ‘Dear England' (Marc Brenner)

Graham added: “We programmed the original play before the Qatar World Cup, and we knew the tournament would be the third act of the play.

“In the end, it was Kane missing the penalty and repeating the fate of his mentor, but this time there were mechanisms in place to support him. In the same way, I’m confident no matter what happens in the Euros, it will still illuminate the tail-end of the Southgate project.”

The play was warmly received by many and scored Olivier Awards for Best New Play and Best Supporting Actor (Will Close as Harry Kane) at April’s ceremony.

Dear England cast at the National Theatre
Dear England cast at the National Theatre (Marc Brenner)

Dear England will also receive the TV treatment, as the BBC has announced plans to adapt the story into a drama series with Joseph Fiennes reprising his role as Southgate. Graham will attend the Euros in person as part of his research for the play and the series.

In her three-star review of the play last summer, The Independent’s Jessie Thompson praised Fiennes’ “remarkable” portrayal of Southgate, noting that he “captures the gentle head nods, the toothy smile that sometimes feels more like a grimace, the soft, nervy exterior hiding a steely inner resolve”.

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