Hugh Bonneville & Karen Gillan to Star in Steven Moffat's 'Douglas Is Cancelled'

Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan in "Douglas Is Cancelled"

Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan in "Douglas Is Cancelled"

(Photo: Courtesy of Hartswood/ITVX) 

Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) are set to star in Douglas Is Cancelled, a four-part dramedy series from former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. Set in the world of television news, the series will explore cancel culture, gender politics and social media when a beloved television host makes an "ill-advised" joke at a wedding and chaos ensues. 

Bonneville plays middle-aged news anchor Douglas Bellowes, a respected and experienced broadcaster on the popular program Live at Six alongside his younger, tech-savvy, and social media-aware co-anchor Madeline (Gillan). Privileged and established, he's seen as a national treasure who can do no wrong. At leat, until he makes a controversial joke at his cousin's wedding, which is overheard by a fellow guest. 

With the threat of exposure hanging over his head, the rumor goes into overdrive, kicking off a digital storm of takes and opinions that quickly upend his life and career. Is Douglas canceled? With her two million social media followers and stellar reputation, Madeline could really help her co-host out if she chose to defend him. But will she? (And perhaps more importantly --- should she?)

“Working again with a director like Ben, on Steven’s acidly witty script, with an ensemble of this caliber, is as daunting as it is exciting," Bonneville said in a statement. 

Moffat, Gillan, and Bonneville have all worked together before: Gillan played Eleventh Doctor companion Amy Pond, and Bonneville guest starred on the Season 6 pirate adventure "The Curse of the Black Spot." 

Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan in "Douglas Is Cancelled"

Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan in "Douglas Is Cancelled"

(Photo: Courtesy of Hartswood/ITVX)

“To torment a man, let alone a man named Douglas, for four episodes - armed with the writing of Steven Moffat - is a great privilege that I’m going to enjoy every minute of," Gillan said. 

Alongside Bonneville and Gillan, the series' impressive ensemble includes Ben Miles (The Crown), Alex Kingston (A Discovery of Witches), Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso), and Simon Russell Beale (Operation Mincemeat). 

The four-part series is written by Moffat, who also executive produces alongside Sue Vertue (Inside Man) on behalf of Hartswood Films. Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners) is directing the series which is produced by Lawrence Till (Silent Witness).
“I just sat down and wrote this - didn’t even tell anyone what I was doing. And now it’s all happening, thanks to the amazing Sue Vertue (renowned tv producer and in a rare moment of weakness, my wife)," Moffat said in a statement. "I can’t quite believe we’ve managed to get the mighty Hugh Bonneville involved as Douglas and that we’ve lured my old friend Karen Gillan back from Hollywood, to play Madeline. And like that’s not enough, we’ve got Ben Miles, Alex Kingston, Nick Mohammed and Simon Russell Beale. It’s the kind of cast that makes you terrified about stepping into the room.”

Your mileage may vary when it comes to whether or not you think we need an alleged "dramedy" series about cancel culture at this particular point in time --- or whether we need one from Moffat, specifically, given the controversy surrounding his portrayal of female characters in previous properties. But with a limited episode order and a cast this stacked it seems safe to say that at least Douglas Is Cancelled should be an entertaining watch. 

Production is currently underway in London. The series will air in the U.K. on streamer ITVX, and BBC Studios will handle international distribution. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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