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Written by John Preston, the three-part drama follows the life and times of disgraced Labour minister John Stonehouse. Matthew Macfadyen has been cast in the leading role and Keeley Hawes cast as Stonehouse’s wife Barbara.

Stonehouse, a member of Harold Wilson’s Government, vanished from the beach in Florida in November 1974, leaving a neatly folded pile of clothes as he swam into the sea, intent on faking his own death. A shocked public and media presumed he had drowned or been eaten by sharks.

As the drama unfolds, it becomes apparent his reputation as a family man masked the truth, as he’d embarked on an extramarital affair with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, and acted as a spy for the Czech Secret Service in the 1960s.

Further cast includes Emer Heatley as Stonehouse’s mistress Sheila Buckley, Kevin R McNally as Harold Wilson, Dorothy Atkinson as Betty Boothroyd and Igor Grabuzov.

Matthew Macfadyen said: "What happened to John Stonehouse is the stuff of legend. I’ve always been intrigued by what motivated him to fake his own death, and leave behind the family he loved and doted upon and a promising political career. John Preston’s script truly captures the man and his colourful life and I’m looking forward to taking on his character."

Writer John Preston said: "I’ve always been fascinated by John Stonehouse. The story of how he faked his own death and tried to start a new life in Australia under an assumed name is one of the most bizarre true-life tales I’ve ever come across. I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s being brought to the screen with such an outstanding cast."

Director Jon S. Baird said "I’m always drawn to fascinating true stories and this one is extra special because it has both comedic and emotional potential. Matthew is perfect casting for this role. It’s also great to be working with ITV for the first time and with two fabulous producers in Ruth and Ellie."

Stonehouse will air on ITV. Transmission details will be revealed in due course.


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