“Like Wizards Without Magic”: ‘Chums’ Series About Boris Johnson’s University

Chums, a forthcoming TV series about the Oxford University days of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is set to be illuminated by never before seen stills by acclaimed photographer Dafydd Jones.

Two Rivers recently optioned Simon Kuper’s book of the same name, telling the history of Johnson and fellow Oxford alumni turned politicians Michael Gove, David Cameron, George Osborne and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Chums is now set to become a four-part series, with many of the stories brought to life through the photography of Jones, who studied his craft Oxford Polytechnic while several of the country’s future leaders partied nearby.

On Instagram, Jones explained how he came to photograph future prime minister Boris Johnson:

“At Oxford the privately educated formed their own cliques separating the top private schools from the minor ones. They didn’t socialise much with those from state schools. I was turned down when I asked permission to photograph the Bullingdon Club [the elite club whose members included future PMs Johnson and Cameron]. But members would sometimes wear their distinctive costume at other more public events at Oxford. Advertising their membership of the club and also separating themselves from the other students. This was why I did this picture of a young man who is now our prime minister at Christchurch college, Oxford in 1987.”

Journalist Kuper, whose book was released earlier this year, told the Daily Mail about the photographs, “When you see these people at 18, you immediately recognise them. It’s spooky how they haven’t changed.

“Oxford is a virtual film set. Harry Potter was filmed there. Boris and Co were like wizards without the magic. Certainly, they were as far removed from the lives of ordinary folk as Harry Potter.”

Channel 4-backed Scottish indie Two Rivers Media have optioned the hit book about how a group of well-connected young Conservatives in the 1980s who all attended Oxford University including the current and two former Prime Ministers dramatically rose to dominate Britain. The book focuses on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former leaders Theresa May and David Cameron, along with heavyweights including Michael Gove, George Osborne and Dominic Cummings, with Kuper, who also attended Oxford in the 1980s, exploring how this narrowest of talent pools has shaped the country over the past two decades.

“What makes Chums such an interesting book is its all-encompassing look at this era of Oxford University students and their alma mater, written by someone who was actually there,” said Two Rivers Managing Director Alan Clements.


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