What To Expect From ITV’s Douglas Is Cancelled

By Olivia Emily

3 weeks ago

‘You must be balanced, boring and bland’


Douglas Is Cancelled is a star-studded encapsulation of the zeitgeist, following a TV news anchor, the titular Douglas (Hugh Bonneville), who becomes subject to a media storm –  and, ultimately, cancel culture – after making an ill-advised joke. Streaming now on ITVX, here’s exactly what to expect from the four-part comedy drama.

Douglas Is Cancelled: Plot, Cast & How To Stream

HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas and KAREN GILLAN as Madeline

HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas and KAREN GILLAN as Madeline. © ITV

From Emmy and BAFTA award winning screenwriter Steven Moffat – the man behind Sherlock and many episodes of Doctor Who – comes a new, four-part dramedy with an ensemble cast: Hugh Bonneville, Karen Gillan, Ben Miles, Alex Kingston, Nick Mohammed and Simon Russell Beale all star.

‘I first read this about six years ago,’ says Gillan, who is good friends with writer Moffat after working together on Doctor Who. ‘As soon as I read it, I badgered Steven to make it. I told him, “This is incredible! This absolutely has to be made!” This was actually prior to any of the dramas like The Morning Show or Bombshell that touch on the same themes. Then eventually, he came back to me saying, “We’re going to make this as a four-part series for ITV. Would you like to play Madeline?” “Yes, of course!” So I feel like I did my little bit to manifest Madeline for myself.’

HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas

HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas. © ITV

What Is Douglas Is Cancelled About?

Douglas Is Cancelled follows Live At Six news anchor Douglas Bellowes (Hugh Bonneville), a middle-aged man in love with both his tabloid newspaper editor wife, Sheila (Alex Kingston), and the life they have created together. His co-anchor is a little fresher: the sharper, younger, tech-savvy Madeline Crow (Karen Gillan) who, despite his experience, Douglas needs constant reassurance from. Madeline, meanwhile, seems to have Douglas wrapped around her little finger.

Douglas is a national treasure, and he seems to be able to do no wrong – until one day he makes an ill-advised joke at his cousin’s wedding which is overheard by a guest who then threatens to expose his comments on social media. Thus ensues a digital media storm as Douglas’ alleged indiscretion is dissected, analysed and blown out of proportion. Everyone has an opinion, but Douglas most cares about those of his colleagues and his family at home. Can he rely on them to support him? Is he a casualty of cancel culture? And, with 2 million followers, are Madeline’s motivations to post on social media on Douglas’ behalf that of a friend or a foe?

‘[Douglas Is Cancelled] constantly surprised me with its changes of direction and tone,’ says Bonneville. ‘It made me roar with laughter but, as with all good satire, the laughter gradually turned to ice as the questions raised by the comedy became more stark… harsher. Some of the twists and turns are toe-curlingly funny, but by the end, the lights have gone out, the fun has evaporated and we’re into dark territory.’

BEN MILES as Toby

BEN MILES as Toby. © ITV

Who Stars?

  • Hugh Bonneville as Douglas Bellowes
  • Karen Gillan as Madeline Crow
  • Ben Miles as Toby Patterson, Douglas’ producer
  • Alex Kingston as Sheila Bellowes
  • Nick Mohammed as Morgan, a comedy writer on the Live at Six team
  • Simon Russell Beale as Bentley Cassock, Douglas’ agent
  • Madeleine Power as Claudia Bellowes, Douglas and Sheila’s teenage daughter
HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas and MADELEINE POWER as Claudia

HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas and MADELEINE POWER as Claudia. © ITV

Is It Based On A True Story?

‘Absolutely not,’ says Moffat, the creator and writer of Douglas Is Cancelled. ‘It’s not based on any actual incident. I first wrote it as a play several years ago, before the #MeToo movement had even begun. At the time I wrote it, we would have pointed to a different set of examples of bad behaviour. This is a story that keeps repeating itself. So yes, people will compare this drama to real-life incidents, but there are honestly no comparisons to be made. However, the drama does exist in a world in which all that has happened. Douglas will remember that those people have got into trouble recently and worry that he could be next. 

‘When I started writing [Douglas Is Cancelled], I thought it was a dynamite subject that would make a great play,’ Moffat adds. ‘I was fascinated by the inter-human politics of it. I’d also been wanting to write about how people bully other people. We know about the form of bullying which is, “I’m going to get you behind the bike sheds.” That’s just school! Everyone gets that. But as you grow up, people still bully each other in the workplace. There’s a scene, for example, where Sheila’s assistant is bullying her. Who is exercising the power there? I’m just fascinated by all those things.’

ALEX KINGSTON as Sheila and HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas

ALEX KINGSTON as Sheila and HUGH BONNEVILLE as Douglas. © ITV

Where Was It Filmed?

Douglas Is Cancelled was filmed in London in November 2023.

Where Is It Streaming?

All four episodes of Douglas Is Cancelled are streaming now on ITVX. itv.com

NICK MOHAMMED as Morgan

NICK MOHAMMED as Morgan. © ITV

When Is Douglas Is Cancelled On TV?

Douglas Is Cancelled is airing Thursday evenings at 9pm on ITV1. All four episodes are already available on ITVX.

Release Schedule

  • Episode 1: 9pm Thursday 27 June on ITV1
  • Episode 2: 9pm Thursday 4 July on ITV1
  • Episode 3: 9pm Thursday 11 July on ITV1
  • Episode 4: 9pm Thursday 18 July on ITV1