UEA ‘Climategate’ scandal to be turned into BBC thriller filmed in Norfolk

Jason Watkins

Jason Watkins who will star in The Trick, a new BBC drama based on the the UEA ‘Climategate’ computer hacking scandal. - Credit: PA

The UEA ‘Climategate’ computer hacking scandal is set to be made into a BBC thriller partly filmed in Norfolk. 

The Trick will tell the story of how Professor Philip Jones, director of climate research at the University of East Anglia, found himself at the eye of an international media storm after leaked emails which suggested climate change researchers had exaggerated claims about the severity of global warming.

Prof Phil Jones and Tim Osborn at the UEA Climactic Research Unit

Prof Phil Jones and Tim Osborn, director of research at the University of East Anglia's Climactic Research Unit, outside the building.  - Credit: UEA

Hackers stole thousands of emails and documents in 2009 putting Norfolk at the heart of a global scientific scandal.

It led to Norwich scientists receiving death threats and one of the most rigorous scrutiny processes in UK academic history that ultimately found the research to be watertight.

A temperature graph at the University of East Anglia's Climactic Research Unit

A temperature graph showing global warming at the University of East Anglia's Climactic Research Unit. - Credit: UEA

The new film will chart the unjustified persecution of Prof Jones, to be played by Line of Duty and The Crown star Jason Watkins, and the fierce support as he fights to exonerate himself of his wife Ruth, to be played by Victoria Hamilton.

The cast also includes George MacKay, Jerome Flynn, Adrian Edmondson, Aneirin Hughes, Tara Divina and David Calder.

EDP coverage of the UEA 'Climategate' scandal.

EDP coverage of the UEA 'Climategate' scandal. - Credit: Archant


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The BBC said parts of the drama will be filmed in Norfolk as well as in London and Cardiff. 

Jason Watkins, who is also a familiar face from the Nativity films and his Bafta-winning role in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, said: “It is rare that a drama marries the personal and the public in such a compelling way - the urgent need to tackle the effects of the earth’s warming is not going away and the research into this project has been sobering. 

Jason Watkins in Line of Duty, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, Des and as Harold Wilson in The Crown.

Jason Watkins in Line of Duty, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, Des and as Harold Wilson in The Crown. - Credit: BBC/ITV/Netflix

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“It is a privilege to play the brilliant scientist, Phil Jones, whose own private world was so threatened from outside and whose research and efforts have been so vital globally in combating the effects of climate change.”

Bafta-nominated writer Owen Sheers, who has written the script for the drama, added: “The events that came to be known as ‘Climategate’ were a powerful coalescence of forces that have since shaped much of our last decade. 

Action from the third Youth Strike 4 Climate protest outside City Hall, Norwich.

- Credit: Jamie Honeywood

“At its heart, however, this is also a story about the people caught at the eye of a new kind of storm, and how in the end despite attack from all sides, the integrity and truth of their important work won through.”
 

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