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'The Trick' — all you need to know about the 'Climategate Scandal' drama

First look: Jason Watkins starring as Professor Philip Jones in The Trick on BBC1.
First look: Jason Watkins starring as Professor Philip Jones in The Trick on BBC1. (Image credit: BBC)

The Trick on BBC1 tells the real-life story of the "Climategate Scandal" from 2009 by following world-renowned scientist Professor Philip Jones, the director of climate research at the University of East Anglia who found himself at the centre of an international media storm. 

Jason Watkins stars as Professor Philip Jones who was persecuted when some sections of the media picked up on the emails and used them to debunk the idea of global warming.

"It’s 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," says Jason Watkins. "It’s 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. I’m delighted to be performing alongside Victoria and the whole exceptional cast."

With time running out to save the planet, The Trick on BBC1 looks at the devastating consequences some leaked emails from climate change scientists had on those trying to prevent the crisis. Here’s everything you need to know about the one-off drama….

The Trick on BBC1 release date

At present the release date for The Trick is being kept strictly under wraps but what we do know is that filming took place for this one-off drama on location in London, Cardiff and Norfolk. And in terms of the battle against climate change, the film can’t be screened soon enough. 

"This is a timely and important piece about a subject which is rarely seen in drama — the climate change crisis. This shocking true story speaks of the complexity of the challenges we face in tackling it," says director Piers Wenger.  

We will also update on a worldwide release date for The Trick, including the US, when we find out more.

The Trick on BBC1 — the real story behind the plot...

The Trick on BBC1 follow the events of 2009 when Professor Philip Jones headed up the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, from which several emails were hacked and leaked to the public. Climate change deniers falsely used these as evidence that Professor Jones and his fellow researchers were faking the evidence that the planet was heating up to dangerous levels. 

He faced a barrage of hate, including death threats, and it set back attempts to halt climate change for around a decade. The impact on Professor Jones himself was huge. "Within a day or two reporters were outside my house, knocking on my neighbours’ doors, digging for dirt," he recalls. "I got hundreds of abusive and threatening emails. I knew the accusations were nonsense. But my health deteriorated. 

"I found it difficult to sleep and eat. I was under intense, spiralling pressure and felt I was falling to pieces. Looking back, I suppose I was having some kind of a nervous breakdown."

The Trick cast — Jason Watkins

Jason Watkins stars in The Trick.

Jason Watkins stars in The Trick. (Image credit: Alamy)

Jason heads up the cast, playing the role of Professor Philip Jones. Last year Jason starred in the hit drama Des playing Brian Masters, killer Dennis Nilsen’s biographer. You will also recognise him as Britain's Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in The Crown and for his role as Simon Harwood in the TV series W1A. Jason is a hugely prolific actor and has also been in The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies, Trollied, A Very English Scandal and Hold The Sunset

Jason Watkins as Brian Masters in ITV drama Des

Jason Watkins as Brian Masters in ITV drama Des. (Image credit: ITV)

The Trick cast — Victoria Hamilton as Ruth Jones

Professor Philip Jones’ wife Ruth was fiercely supportive of her husband and fought to exonerate him and the science itself. She’s played by Victoria Hamilton, who’s best known for playing The Queen Mother in the first two series of The Crown. Victoria has also starred in Doctor Foster, Life, Cobra and Larkrise to Candleford. She’s also taken on period dramas, for example the TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which she played Mrs Forster.

The Trick star Victoria Hamilton played the Queen Mother in the first two series of The Crown.

The Trick star Victoria Hamilton played the Queen Mother in the first two series of The Crown. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Trick cast — George MacKay

George MacKay will also star in the drama, although his role hasn’t yet been revealed. He previously played Lewis Aldridge in the series The Outcast, about a young boy struggling to fit into post-war English life after witnessing the death of his mother. He also starred in the 2014 film Pride and the Stephen King inspired show 11/22/63 you’ll see him in the upcoming Steven Spielberg pre-war film Munich, due to be released this year. 

George MacKay in Pride from 2015.

George MacKay in Pride from 2015. (Image credit: Alamy)

The Trick cast — Jerome Flynn

Again it’s unclear what role Jerome will play in The Trick, but the actor is best known for his role as Paddy Garvey in the much loved 1990s series Soldier Soldier. Jerome also appeared as Bronn in Game of Thrones and has had roles in Ripper Street, Black Mirror and Badger.

Jerome Flynn in Game Of Thrones.

Jerome Flynn as Bronn in Game Of Thrones. (Image credit: HBO)

Who else is starring in The Trick?

The Trick boasts a stellar cast in supporting roles, including Adrian Edmondson who shot to fame in 1980s series The Young Ones. More recently he’s starred in EastEnders, The Pact and Save Me. Keeping Faith’s Aneirin Hughes and Rhashan Stone (Keeping Faith, Finding Alice) also appear alongside Line of Duty star Tara Divina and David Calder (Time, The Hatton Garden Job). And look out for Pooky Quesnel (The A Word, The Victim), Richard Elfyn (The Pact) and Justin Salinger (Hanna).

'Time' stars Sue Johnston and David Calder.

The Trick star David Calder in Time with Sue Johnston.  (Image credit: BBC)

 Is there a trailer?

The Trick trailer for the 90-minute film has yet to be released but we’re waiting with bated breath for a look at Jason Watkins as the unassuming Professor Jones. 

The writer 

The Trick screenplay was written by BAFTA-nominated Owen Sheers who was behind Aberfan, The Snow Spider and The Green Hollow. Talking about the movie’s importance he says, "The Trick is both a story of a particular moment in time, and a story for our times. The events that came to be known as Climategate were a powerful coalescence of forces that have since shaped much of our last decade. 

"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."