‘Stonehouse’ recap: What happened in Episode 1?

Matthew Macfadyen’s new ITV drama began in the UK tonight!

Written by A Very English Scandal author John Preston and inspired by the extraordinary true story, Stonehouse series dramatises the life and times of disgraced politician John Stonehouse.

The three-part mini-series tells the story of how Stonehouse, a high-flying member of Harold Wilson’s Government, disappeared from a beach in 1974, intending to fake his own death.

Leading the cast as John Stonehouse is Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), with his real-life partner Keeley Hawes (The Durrells) playing Stonehouse’s wife, Barbara.

They’re joined by Emer Heatley (Showtrial) as Stonehouse’s mistress Sheila Buckley, Kevin R McNally (The Crown) as Harold Wilson, and Dorothy Atkinson (All Creatures Great and Small) as Betty Boothroyd.

Stonehouse will be released in the US and internationally later this year on BritBox.

Watch the trailer here:


documentary about the real John Stonehouse is set to air on ITV1 in the UK after the final episode.

Here’s a plot recap for the first episode, which premiered on ITV1 at 9pm on Monday 2nd January 2023:

Miami, 1974. John Stonehouse’s (Matthew Macfadyen) head bobs above the water. Looking back at the beach, he sees his clothes folded up. This is the point of no return.

In the late sixties, John Stonehouse’s political career is booming.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Kevin R.McNally), he bags ministerial roles in Aviation and then as Postmaster General. He’s happily married to Barbara Stonehouse (Keeley Hawes), with three children.

During these successes though, Stonehouse is also forging secret relationships – first with Czech spymaster Alexander Marek (Igor Grabuzov) and then with his new secretary Sheila Buckley (Emer Heatley).

Marek makes him an offer and Stonehouse is more than happy to trade information for money. His romance with Sheila is more organic, but also requires some more plate-spinning.

On top of this, the drama sees him spending his new found wealth lavishly. Against Barbara’s wishes, they move into a grand new house and Stonehouse buys an impractical sports car.

The 1970 election proves to be a turning point as Stonehouse, when Labour loses power, goes from flag-waver to scapegoat. He’s left out in the cold by Wilson, Marek and the media.

Rumours of fraud are circulating too, as his suspect investments are scrutinised. He’s becoming desperate.

Inspired by The Day of the Jackal, he hatches a secret plan to escape his dire circumstances that involves a dead constituent and forged passports.

A ministerial trip to Miami is the perfect opportunity – but can he bear to leave his family, and the real John Stonehouse, behind?