‘Years and Years’ Frightened Emma Thompson — Then Came the Pandemic

When Emma Thompson first read the pilot for the HBO limited series “Years and Years,” which tracks a loving but dysfunctional Manchester family from 2019 to 2034, it read like science fiction.

She had no idea that the disturbing digital future depicted by “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” showrunner Russell T.

Davies would so swiftly meet the present.Before she took on her role as Vivienne Rook, a mediagenic British businesswoman-turned-politician who rises to power as the world goes to shit, “I felt frightened,” she told me from lockdown in the country home in Scotland she shares with husband Greg Wise, “because of the rise of populist politicians and populism in the world.”And then came the pandemic.

“The crisis has been happening in our world and culture for many years now,” said the environmental activist (Thompson works with Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion), political short maker (“Extinction”) and reader of scary dystopian fiction

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