BritBox Lands Two Highly-Anticipated Series 'The Sixth Commandment' & 'This England'

Timothy Spall as Peter Farquhar at home in his library in 'The Sixth Commandment'

Timothy Spall as Peter Farquhar in 'The Sixth Commandment'

Amanda Searle/BritBox

BritBox has scooped up two series for Fall 2023. One is The Sixth Commandment, a critically-acclaimed hit from the BBC; the other, This England, is a highly-anticipated title heading to Sky UK. Both come headlined by some of the biggest names in British acting, with Timothy Spall (Spencer) and Anne Reid (Sanditon) headlining The Sixth Commandment as real-life neighbors Peter Farquhar and Ann Moore-Martin, while Kenneth Branagh (Death on the Nile) takes on the role of now-ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in This England.

The Sixth Commandment, which ran on the BBC in July 2023, is a dramatization of the Maids Moreton murders, which is considered one of the most complex criminal cases of the 21st century so far. In 2018, unemployed church deputy warden Ben Field was arrested by Thames Valley Police for the murders of teacher Peter Farquhar and his profoundly religious neighbor, Ann Moore-Martin, in 2014 and 2017, respectively. He was convicted of manipulating, seducing, and murdering Farquhar, but not Moore-Martin, of whom he was convicted of fraud.

Made with the full cooperation of the Farquhar and Moore-Martin families, the four-part series was written by Sarah Phelps (A Very British Scandal) and directed by Saul Dibb (The Salisbury Poisonings), with Spall and Reid co-starring alongside Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People) as Field. Sheila Hancock (Unforgotten), Annabel Scholey (Doctor Who: Flux), and Ben Bailey Smith (Andor) also co-star. The U.K. press highly praised the series upon its release. The series will premiere on BritBox on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, and run on a weekly release schedule.

Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds and Kenneth Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson wandering around the garden in 'This England'

Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds and Kenneth Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 'This England'

SkyUK/Phil Fisk

BritBox's other big get is This England, (originally titled This Sceptered Isle), which has already been making waves since it was originally announced in 2021. The series, which stars Branagh as Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the heart of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, was derided as exploitive and arriving "too soon" after the pandemic. Worse, SkyUK's original release date, September 9, 2022, wound up being utterly overshadowed by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II the day before. The six-part series was bumped out of respect, but most of the commotion around its arrival was drowned out in the ensuing mourning period. 

A year and a couple of Prime Ministers later, BritBox has finally scooped up the series and will bring it to American shores. For American audiences who are less aware of Johnson's controversial handling of the crisis (and his habit of throwing parties while the rest of the country was forced to remain in their homes by penalty of law), the time gap between the events depicted and now will hopefully lessen to a sense of trying to retell history too soon. However, the real question is if Branagh's Johnson will be on point or as bad as his Hercule Poirot.

The series was co-written by Richard Brown (True Detective) and Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart), the latter also covering directing duties. The synopsis promises "the drama takes viewers inside the halls of power, as Johnson grapples with Covid-19, Brexit, and a controversial personal and political life. The events in government are interwoven with stories from around the country, from the experts and scientists racing against time to understand the virus; the doctors, nurses, and care-home workers on the frontline working tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome it; and ordinary people whose lives were thrown into turmoil."

This England has no official release date on BritBox but is confirmed to arrive in November 2023 and will run on a weekly release schedule.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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