He’s a tragic character, a politician whose meteoric rise was swiftly eclipsed by plummeting poll ratings. So which actor will answer the call to portray the rise and fall of Nick Clegg on screen?
Casting is underway for Coalition, a feature-length Channel 4 drama portraying the “emotionally wrought” negotiations which brought the Liberal Democrats’ leader into Government.
James Graham, the acclaimed playwright behind the political dramas This House and Tory Boyz, has penned the screenplay for the 90-minute Channel 4 film.
“Clegg – the movie” will explore “the emotionally wrought, politically charged and often frenzied moments leading up to Nick Clegg’s astonishing rise from rank outsider to the man who would decide the fate of the country.”
Possisbles to play the deputy Prime Minister include Dan Stevens, formerly of Downton Abbey and Colin Firth, the Academy Award winner who endorsed the Lib Dems at the 2010 election.
With Benedict Cumberbatch an early favourite on social media for the role, the official Liberal Democrat Twitter feed entered the debate asking its 68,000 followers: “Nick Clegg The Movie. Who would you like to see play Nick?”
A source close to the deputy prime minister joked: “That would explain why Michael Fassbender keeps calling.”
But Channel 4, which said the drama will be based on “extensive research”, could choose a relative unknown to play the politician, who shot into the national consciousness with his performance at the first televised party leaders’ election debate.
A rival Coalition television drama, 5 Days In May, based on former Labour minister Andrew Adonis’ account of the 2010 negotiations, is also planned. The rights were snapped up by World Productions, the company behind the BBC police drama Line of Duty.
The Hollywood-style blurb for Coalition states: “In May 2010, after decades of single party rule and amidst growing disillusionment, all eyes turned to one man. A man who found himself with the power to change the landscape of British politics - and his career - forever. But at what cost?
“Would Clegg become the hero of a new politics – or the destroyer of his own party? Blue…or red? Left…or Right?”
James Graham said: “British politics was faced with a dilemma it hadn’t had to face in peacetime for over 75 years. The public were asked ‘who should govern’, and they came back with the answer – ‘we don't know’.
“Those historic, dramatic few days put personalities at the heart of politics – and the choices made, I believe, changed the face of British politics forever. What we try to capture in this drama is the tension, the high stakes, and the frequent farcical and absurd nature of what happens when a power is wrangled, negotiated and fought over like children trading cards in the playground.”
No sequel is planned for Coalition, which will “delve into the individual decisions, personal sacrifices and divisive compromises made in a pivotal few days” to expose “the game of building governments in backrooms.”
It follows previous Channel 4 political dramas - Miliband of Brothers, When Boris Met Dave, The Trial of Tony Blair – none of which have flattered their subjects.
Clegg idols: Who should play Nick?
Hugh Grant - Hesitant but well-mannered Lib Dem declares his true feelings for David Cameron in the Downing Street Rose Garden as fountains spurt into action and the nation’s press stand to applaud.
Hugh Bonneville – Brings upright Earl Grantham-style gravitas to deputy PM who can’t understand why the lower orders aren’t willing to pay for their university education.
Colin Firth – A flattering doppelganger, Firth is a sometime Lib Dem supporter who believes Clegg “did what he thought was the only choice at that time given the parliamentary situation”.
Nick Clegg - Strode the boards at Cambridge, where he once acted in a play under the direction of Sam Mendes, Clegg demands to play the role of his life but insists on rewriting the ending.
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