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University of East Anglia 'Climategate' scandal to be turned into film

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Jason Watkins in BBC dark comedy Inside No 9

image copyrightBBC/Sophie Mutevelian

The “Climategate” computer hacking scandal that rocked the scientific world is to be made into a BBC film.

Hackers stole thousands of emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Norwich in 2009.

Line of Duty actor Jason Watkins is to star in The Trick playing climate change scientist Prof Philip Jones.

Watkins said it was a “privilege to play the brilliant scientist… whose own world was so threatened”.

The Trick will tell the story of the professor, who was director of the Climatic Research Unit.

Prof Jones became the victim of cyber terrorism with stolen emails used by human-induced climate change deniers to promote their view of global warming ahead of an international conference.

An independent inquiry was held after the false claims circulated that the unit’s scientists had manipulated data to exaggerate evidence of human-induced climate change.

The claims that the unit acted dishonestly were dismissed, but the scientists were criticised for a lack of openness.


Watkins will appear alongside 1917 actor George MacKay, Doctor Foster’s Victoria Hamilton, Game Of Thrones’ Jerome Flynn and Young Ones actor/comedian Adrian Edmondson.

He 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.

“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.”

Jason Watkins in Line of Duty

UEA, Norwich

image copyrightGeograph/N Chadwick

Writer Owen Sheers said: “The events that came to be known as Climategate were a powerful coalescence of forces that have since shaped much of our last decade.

“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.”

Filming will take place in Cardiff, London and Norfolk.

A transmission date is yet to be announced.

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