The decidedly quirky three part Stonehouse, starring Matthew Macfayden and Keeley Hawes, is now streaming on Britbox Australia. In this true story Macfadyen plays MP John Stonehouse, who in 1974, faked his own death and spent weeks hiding out in Melbourne, Australia.
The three-part drama, directed by Jon S. Baird (Stan & Ollie, Vinyl, Filth), is produced by Snowed-In Productions and Clearwood Films with BritBox International as a co-production partner. It details the mysterious disappearance of Stonehouse, a rising star in Harold Wilson’s government, from the beach of a large luxury hotel in Florida in November 1974. He left behind a neatly folded pile of clothes before swimming into the sea to fake his own death.
In the course of the play, it is revealed that his outward persona as a doting father and husband was a facade. Stonehouse had an extramarital romance with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, and spied for the Czech Government in the 1960s.
Stonehouse’s financial and personal troubles led him to steal the identity of a recently departed constituent. Stonehouse submitted a passport application in the deceased man’s name and immediately proceeded to hatch a complex plot.
Stonehouse faked his own death in 1974, leaving behind his wife Barbara and three young children. To make it appear as though he swam out to sea and was devoured by a shark, he left a nicely folded pile of garments on the beach.
Stonehouse hoped to start over in a new country. However, things quickly went south when he was apprehended by Australian authorities who falsely believed he was the fugitive peer Lord Lucan.
Stonehouse was returned to the UK by Scotland Yard investigators and quickly became instrumental in maintaining the Labour government’s razor-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.
Stonehouse premieres on Britbox Australia on Tuesday 17 January 2023.