Keeley Hawes and Matthew Macfadyen star in bizarre real-life 1970s drama

Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes are teaming up for a new television series.

Husband and wife since 2004, the couple have starred in many of our favourite British period dramas over the years.

It’s very exciting to see them on screen together again for the first time since they shot to fame in BBC spy drama Spooks (titled MI-5 in the States) in the early 2000s.

In the intervening years, Macfadyen has starred in Ripper Street, Succession, and 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, while Hawes is best known for her roles in The Durrells, Bodyguard, and It’s a Sin.

The married pair are now reuniting in a new drama for ITV and BritBox from the executive producers of Mrs Wilson and The Dig.

Stonehouse will dramatise the life and times of disgraced Labour minister John Stonehouse.

The three-part drama tells the story of how Stonehouse, a high-flying member of Harold Wilson’s Government, disappeared from the beach of a luxury hotel in Florida in November 1974, leaving behind only a neatly folded stack of clothes as he swam off into the sea, intending to fake his own death.

Scripts have been written by John Preston, author of the book on which A Very English Scandal was based.

Directed by Stan & Ollie director Jon S. Baird, the mini-series will star Matthew Macfadyen as John Stonehouse, alongside Keeley Hawes as Stonehouse’s wife, Barbara.

Macfadyen commented: “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.”

The Ripper Street star added: “John Preston’s script truly captures the man and his colourful life and I’m looking forward to taking on his character.”

The cast of Stonehouse also includes 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.

Screenwriter John Preston explained what drew him to the project: “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.”

Preston, who also wrote last year’s The Dig movie for Netflix last year, says he’s “absolutely thrilled” to have “such an outstanding cast” signed up for Stonehouse.

Stonehouse will premiere in the UK on ITV later this year.

It’ll be available to watch in the US and internationally on BritBox.

We’ve got a first look photo from the show here, featuring Matthew Macfadyen in character as John Stonehouse:

The official synopsis for Stonehouse reads: “The MP for Walsall North left behind his loving wife Barbara and three young children as a shocked public and media presumed he had drowned or been eaten by sharks.

“Charismatic, oozing with charm and brimming with confidence, Stonehouse had impressed Prime Minister Harold Wilson and 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 War and seemed the ideal candidate for a life in politics.

“As the drama unfolds, it becomes apparent his reputation as a devoted family man masked the truth, as he’d embarked on an extra marital affair with his secretary, Sheila Buckley, and acted as a spy for the Czech Secret Service 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, seeking a new life in Australia. But his plans soon turned sour as Stonehouse 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.”

Spooks is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.