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Michael Callow was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and is the protagonist of The National Anthem. He is portrayed by Rory Kinnear.


Callow is woken during the night to learn that Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the Royal Family, has been kidnapped. For her safe return, the Prime Minister must have live sexual intercourse with a pig on national television, following a list of technical specifications designed to make it impossible to fake. Callow adamantly opposes fulfilling the demand. His team, led by Alex Cairns, reluctantly inform him that the ransom video was posted on YouTube and has been viewed and downloaded by thousands of people. Although the UK media initially agrees to comply with a D-Notice to not report the story, clones of the video are available on YouTube and public discussion is taking place on Facebook and Twitter. Later, UKN breaks the D-Notice by discussing the kidnapping, though censoring the kidnapper's demands; other news media also begin to report on the story. The public's response is initially one of sympathy, and the majority do not expect Callow to go through with the demand.

Special Agent Callett attempts to arrange a method for footage to be faked. The kidnapper discovers this and sends a severed finger, ostensibly Princess Susannah's, to a UK news station as a response. The story is outed, and public opinion turns sharply against Callow; a majority now expect him to follow the kidnapper's demands, though his wife Jane begs him not to go through with it. Callow orders an immediate rescue operation on the building where they believe Susannah is being held. Meanwhile, UKN journalist Malaika has been sending sexually explicit photographs to an associate in return for details about the government's actions. She learns of the rescue operation and films it on her phone. However, the building is a decoy, and Malaika is shot as she tries to flee the scene.

Cairns convinces Callow that he will be despised by the public, and threatens that his family may not be safe, if he refuses to comply with the kidnapper's demands. He reluctantly agrees, being informed that recording the event will be illegal, and an unpleasant tone will be played to discourage viewers from watching. Gravely, Callow has intercourse with the pig while an audience of 1.3 billion watches; some people are disgusted and others amused.

Princess Susannah is discovered unharmed on a bridge – she was released 30 minutes before Callow's sex act began, though Cairns covers this up. Turner Prizewinner Carlton Bloom commits suicide; he was the kidnapper. Cairns tells Callow, as he vomits into a toilet, that Susannah is safe. A year later, Susannah is pregnant and Callow's approval rating has improved, but his wife Jane ignores him and walks off as he begs, "Jane, please." It is later revealed in a news report that they are getting divorced.

At some point, a six-part documentary called The Callow Years was created to explore Michael Callow's period as prime minister. The documentary purported to contain never-before-seen archival footage from some of Callow's most controversial public moments. The documentary would be made available on the Streamberry streaming service.

At another point in time, a man named Michael Smart was known to have ascended to the position of UK Prime Minister at some point after Michael Callow's tenure.



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