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Stonehouse Drama to Premiere on Britbox in Australia

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BritBox Australia has announced that in late 2022, it will be the exclusive home of the highly awaited original production Stonehouse.

Stonehouse, a new original series commissioned by ITV and co-produced by BritBox International, recounts the life and times of disgraced British Labour minister John Stonehouse, a suspected spy who faked his death, fled the country, and hid in Melbourne, Australia.

Emmy-nominated Matthew Macfayden (Succession, Pride & Prejudice) plays the lead role of John Stonehouse and Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty, Ashes to Ashes, Spooks, It’s A Sin) co-stars as Stonehouse’s wife Barbara.

The three-part drama, directed by BAFTA-nominated Jon S. Baird (Stan & Ollie, Vinyl, Filth), produced by Snowed-In Productions and Clearwood Films with BritBox International as co-production partners, relates how Stonehouse, a high-flying member of Harold Wilson’s Government, vanished from the beach of a large luxury hotel in Florida in November 1974, leaving a neatly folded pile of clothes as he swam into the sea, intent on faking his own death.

Moira Hogan, Country Manager of BritBox Australia said: “The story of John Stonehouse is as unbelievable as it is fascinating. The production, script and cast bring together an incredible re-telling of a true, yet bizarre narrative. We’re proud to announce that Stonehouse is one of the many original programs that BritBox is bringing to Aussie screens this year.”

Diederick Santer, Chief Creative Officer, BritBox International says: “We at BritBox International are delighted to be working with this talented and accomplished team, and with ITV, to be sharing this extraordinary story with our audiences all over the world. We’re very proud to have Stonehouse as our first global co-production.”

Stonehouse was a high flying member of Harold Wilson’s Government who impressed labour stalwarts from an early stage in his parliamentary career. From a working-class background, he’d graduated from the London School of Economics, was in the RAF during the Second World War and seemed the ideal candidate for a life in politics.

As the drama unfolds, it becomes apparent that his reputation as a devoted family man masked the truth. Stonehouse embarked on an extra marital affair with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, and acted as a spy for the Czech Government in the 1960s.

His complex financial status and relationships eventually took their toll, with Stonehouse deliberately stealing the identity of a recently deceased constituent. Stonehouse applied for a passport in the dead man’s name and began to weave an elaborate conspiracy.

Faking his death, Stonehouse left behind his loving wife Barbara and three young children in 1974. He staged a scene of leaving a neatly folded pile of clothes by the beach to suggest he swam into the sea and was eaten by a shark.

Stonehouse sought a new life in Australia. However, his plans soon turned sour as he was arrested by Australian police who had been under the mistaken impression that he was the fugitive peer Lord Lucan.

Brought back to the UK by Scotland Yard detectives, Stonehouse found that he was crucial to keeping the Labour government in power with its wafer-thin majority.

Written by acclaimed writer John Preston (A Very English Scandal, The Dig), the drama will also star Emer Heatley (Showtrial) as Stonehouse’s mistress Sheila Buckley, Kevin R McNally (The Crown, Unforgotten) as Harold Wilson, Dorothy Atkinson (All Creatures Great and Small, Mum) as Betty Boothroyd and Igor Grabuzov (Voskresenskiy, No Looking Back).

Stonehouse Executive Producers are Jon S. Baird, Matthew Macfadyen, John Preston, Neil Blair, Ruth Kenley-Letts and Ellie Wood, Polly Hill for ITV and Diederick Santer for BritBox International.

BritBox International, the streaming service offering the best collection of unmissable British
entertainment, will be the exclusive home to the series in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Stonehouse is commissioned by ITV. BritBox International is a joint initiative created by ITV and BBC.

Banijay will be responsible for the international distribution of the drama.