The New Pope

Last updated
The New Pope
The New Pope.jpg
Genre Drama
Created by Paolo Sorrentino
Written by
  • Paolo Sorrentino
  • Umberto Contarello
  • Stefano Bises
Directed byPaolo Sorrentino
Opening theme
Composer Lele Marchitelli
Country of origin
  • Italy
  • France
  • Spain
Original languages
  • English
  • Italian
No. of episodes9 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Lorenzo Mieli
  • Mario Gianani
  • Riccardo Neri
  • Elena Recchia
  • Paolo Sorrentino
  • Jude Law
  • Caroline Benjo
  • Carole Scotta
  • Simon Arnal
  • Jaume Roures
  • Javier Méndez
  • Nils Hartmann
  • Sonia Rovai
  • Davide Bertoni
Ben Jackson
Production locations
Cinematography Luca Bigazzi
EditorCristiano Travaglioli
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time47–60 minutes
Production companies
Distributor Fremantle
Original network
Picture format
First shown inItaly
Original release10 January (2020-01-10) 
7 February 2020 (2020-02-07)
Preceded by The Young Pope

The New Pope is a drama television series created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino for Sky Atlantic, HBO and Canal+. It is a continuation of the 2016 series The Young Pope , originally announced as its second season. [1] The nine-episode series stars Jude Law, reprising his role as Pope Pius XIII, and John Malkovich as Pope John Paul III, the titular new pope. [2] It was co-produced by European production companies The Apartment, Wildside, Haut et Court TV and Mediapro. [3]


The series premiered on 10 January 2020 on Sky Atlantic in Italy.





  • Charlie Potts and Joshua Smallwood as Adam Brannox, John's twin brother
  • Callum Potts and Matthew Smallwood as young John Brannox
  • Hella Stichlmair as young Lady Brannox, John's mother
  • Jonas Crodack as young Lord Brannox, John's father



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateItal. viewers
1"Episode 1" Paolo Sorrentino Paolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises10 January 2020 (2020-01-10)0.22 [9]
0.43 (o.n.) [9]
After nine months and several failed heart transplants, Pope Pius XIII remains comatose, but has developed a cult following and is revered as a saint by many. On the advice of Bauer, the Ambassador of the Holy See, Voiello decides a new pope must be elected to prevent Pius XIII from becoming a false idol. Realizing the papal conclave is unwilling to elect him, he and allies engage in tactical voting to prevent his opponent Cardinal Hernández from being selected. They instead elect the mild-mannered Cardinal Viglietti, a devout follower of Francis of Assisi, hoping to influence him by proxy. Adopting the name Pope Francis II, Viglietti quickly acclimates to his power and introduces radical charitable reforms to the church, such as allowing masses of refugees shelter in the Vatican, taking full control of the Vatican Archives and finances with the intent of giving them away, and compelling the College of Cardinals to surrender their valuables. The reforms, plus Viglietti’s intent to defrock Voiello, cause the latter and Hernández to plot to replace him with the more moderate Sir John Brannox, who was the third preference in the election. Pope Francis II suffers an apparent heart attack and dies, implied to have been orchestrated by Bauer. Pope Pius XIII, having been comatose for months, finally moves his finger.
2"Episode 2"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises10 January 2020 (2020-01-10)0.17 [9]
0.43 (o.n.) [9]
Voiello, Assente, Gutiérrez, Aguirre and Sofia travel to England to meet with Brannox and convince him to accept the role of pope before the papal conclave votes. A member of British aristocracy and admirer of John Henry Newman, Brannox is renowned in the church for the conversion of Anglicans to Catholicism and for a theological text, The Middle Way, published in his youth. The cardinals believe this centrist philosophy will restore order to the Vatican after the death of Francis II and the state of Pius XIII. Upon arrival at the Brannox estate, the group are shown to their bedrooms, where each of them (as well as Brannox) feels the presence of Pius XIII. In the Vatican, Sofia’s husband Tomas meets with the Italian Minister of Economy and Finance and Cardinal Spalletta, who reveals he will be able to manipulate Brannox as he knows his one and only secret. The next morning, Voiello meets with Brannox, who reveals his elderly parents live in a separate wing so they never see him, believing him guilty for the death of his twin, Adam, whom they mourn daily. The group is taken aback by Brannox’s eccentricity and candidness, but a later meal where the cardinal expands on his philosophy cements their decision to select him. Brannox informs them he will have a decision by morning. In the Vatican, a television broadcasts an anti-Christian message from an unknown Islamic caliphate before turning off.
3"Episode 3"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises17 January 2020 (2020-01-17)N/A
Brannox discusses the possibility of being pope with Sofia and Gutiérrez. He later speaks to his parents, noting how ironic it is that their preferred long-gone son Adam could not become a prominent ecclesiastic figure, while he, the disgraced son, is now offered the highest position in the Church. He tells them he resents them for their contempt, and that he deserves to be pope because of that. Despite this, in the morning, he informs the others of his decision to decline the offer. However, Voiello manages to persuade him and they all return to Rome, where Brannox is elected Pope John Paul III and has his first homily. In financial hardship, Esther is introduced to Fabiano, a single man, and they begin a sexual relationship. Fabiano later informs Esther that a mother is paying good money for a woman to engage in sexual intercourse with her son Attanasio, who has physical deformities. Esther is initially irritated by the proposal, but she goes to see the son, only to run shortly after undressing. The Abbess and Sister Lisette ask Cavallo for money to allow Lisette to accompany her ill mother to Lourdes before she dies; Cavallo pretends to help them, but actually ignores their request. The pope addresses the cardinals, saying that tenderness has to be preferred over passion and that the Church has to learn how to love properly. Voiello discovers a young refugee, Faisal, hidden in a tool house, but ignores him; Faisal later meets with Sister Caterina in a cloister.
4"Episode 4"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises17 January 2020 (2020-01-17)N/A
Pope John Paul III receives Marilyn Manson, who suggests he visit Pope Pius in Venice. After giving a speech against pedophilia, John Paul is presented with a Bentley car by Cardinal Spalletta, who subtly blackmails him into appointing him as secretary. Cavallo tells Voiello that the nuns have occupied the Sistine Chapel and gone on strike, asking for respect from other churchmen. Voiello receives the Abbess and Sister Lisette, the leader of the strike, to hear them out, but advises them not to make an enemy of him; they later ask for a meeting with the Holy Father. Pope John Paul visits Pope Pius in Venice; when he leaves the hospital, the leader of a vigil for Pius XIII stops him and whispers in his ear. Back in the Vatican, Pope John Paul III confirms Sofia and Voiello's positions, nominates Gutiérrez as his advisor and Spalletta as his personal secretary in charge of creativity. In private, Spalletta advises the pope not to make an enemy of Voiello, despite his possible involvement in the assassination of Pope Francis II. Gutiérrez visits his lover, Freddy, and they have sex; he later confesses his sin to the pope. The Italian Government informs the Vatican they plan repeal the eight per thousand law, cutting off the Church from taxpayer money. Later, Spalletta says to the pope that he can persuade the Minister of Economy and Finance to delay the measure until the incumbent government falls. Esther returns to Attanasio, allowing him to touch her.
5"Episode 5"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises24 January 2020 (2020-01-24)0.25 (o.n.) [10]
Sharon Stone meets with John Paul III and proposes gay marriage for Catholics and that the Vatican should better support modern artists. There is a terrorist attack in Lourdes, France. Sofia receives the pope's private number, and later meets him in the Vatican Necropolis where he confides in her his idea to legalise heterosexual and homosexual marriage for the clergy in order to reduce levels of sexual abuse in the church. Faisal and Sister Caterina meet and make love in the garden shed and she later discovers she is pregnant. Voiello and Bauer meet and discuss Spalletta and Altbruck's partnership. John Paul III travels to Lourdes after the terror attack where he is greeted by a large enthusiastic crowd; their reaction widely reported in the international and Italian press. In Venice, reporters hear Pius XIII breathing and a radio declares that they will broadcast only this from now on; Voiello and the cardinals tune in. Gutiérrez sees Freddy again. After doing some sex work and paying Fabiano a share for acting as a procurator, Esther cuts loose with him and leaves her accommodation at the church with her son.
6"Episode 6"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises24 January 2020 (2020-01-24)0.25 (o.n.) [10]
Sofia is met by the sinister and mysterious Leopold Essence, who tells her to "follow the love to find failure." Esther returns to Attanasio and makes a deal with his mother to see other boys in need of sexual attention. Sofia goes to Voiello after discovering that her husband, Spalletta and Guicciardini have sex with an underage escort girl together; Voiello gives this news to the pope. John Paul III meets Spalletta, who explains the situation is to please Guicciardini, who is protecting the church by convincing the Prime Minister to postpone new laws, which include a proposed retroactive tax on church buildings. Spalletta then argues that due to his secretive Machiavellianism, Voiello should be replaced as Secretary of State. John Paul III meets Voiello and suggests he resigns. In response, Voiello first transfers Cardinal Hernandez to a missionary posting in Kabul, and then meets the nuns and grants their wishes before resigning and being replaced by Assente. Esther strangles Attanasio's mother when the latter tells Esther that her work is over. John Paul III agrees to do a television interview with journalist Emory Kitsworth, which he leaves mid-way through due displaying symptoms of withdrawal. Esther goes to Venice and prays for forgiveness to Pius XIII, and is embraced by one of his followers.
7"Episode 7"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises31 January 2020 (2020-01-31)0.25 (o.n.) [11]
Faisal is removed from the Vatican on orders of Assente. Pope Pius XIII finally awakens from his coma against all medical predictions, and is taken secretly to the home of his cardiologist Dr. Lindegard to recuperate. He meets Lindegard's wife, Ewa Novak, who suffers from severe depression due to their sons severe myotonic dystrophy. Believing Pius XIII to be a saint and the second coming of Jesus, she angrily pleads he cure her child. Despite refuting her claims, he still prays desperately for the disabled boy and encourages the couple to rekindle their relationship. Pius XIII's idolatric following splits, with a faction led by Esther believing he has been killed. A terror attack (which Faisal is implied to be a part of) takes place in St Peters Basilica which kills John Paul III's dog, causing him to fall into a deep depression. Sofia seeks the retired Voiello's advice on the fragile pope's state and is told to ride his weakness. John Paul III confesses to Gutiérrez that he is a drug addict, and more importantly that he plagiarized The Middle Way from his dead twin brother's work.
8"Episode 8"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises31 January 2020 (2020-01-31)0.25 (o.n.) [11]
Bauer meets with Voiello, informing him Pius XIII has awoken and that they need to restore the weak John Paul III in order to return the Vatican to strength, as his practices help divert attention from the church's scandals. He warns of the likelihood of another terror attack from the Caliph, and implies the death of Francis II was caused by the comatose pontiff. John Paul III retreats to the Alps and is met by Sofia, who reveals leaked photos of him as a punk in his youth in Vanity Fair have restored public opinion of him despite his behaviour in the interview and after the terror attack. He divulges to her how his brother, Adam, died in a skiing accident, and how he was unable to save him due to being high on heroin. Voiello returns as Secretary of State, as Assente is forced to resign following a remark regarding orphaned children, as well as being entrapped into revealing his homosexuality . Bauer and Essence put an end to Spalletta, Altbruck and Guicciardini's blackmail of John Paull III. Pius XIII returns to Rome in secret, and plans his public comeback with Voiello in addition to voicing his anger at the Caliph's attacks on the church. He also meets with the nuns and promises moderate reform. Voiello's friend Girolamo dies, and receives an elaborate Vatican funeral. Voiello advises John Paul III that Pius XIII cannot remain an emeritus, and the two must meet to discuss the future in person.
9"Episode 9"Paolo SorrentinoPaolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello & Stefano Bises7 February 2020 (2020-02-07)0.22 (o.n.) [12]
Sofia resigns as head of marketing after ensuring her husband and his co-conspirators are arrested. A hostage crisis emerges at an elementary school on Ventotene. Pius XIII and John Paul III meet to discuss the matter, believing the caliphate is to blame. A furious Pius XIII proposes the papacy come down hard on the perpetrators and threatens to reveal himself to the world, robbing the caliphate of their monopoly on religious fanaticism and potentially starting a new religious war. He gains the support of the cardinals in secret, and convinces John Paul III to echo his sentiments publicly, but this results in a hostage being executed. Bauer forces a meeting between Voiello and a senior member of the caliphate, who informs the cardinal they are not behind the hostage crisis. A regretful Pius XIII meets with John Paul III, who surprisingly abdicates and returns home, fulfilling his wish to be forgotten. Pius XIII, now back in power, visits the school accompanied by DIGOS officers. The perpetrators then unveil themselves as his idolaters, including Esther, and are arrested. In St. Peter's Square, Pius XIII gives a speech exulting The Middle Way, remarking such an approach should simply be the way of the church. He then interacts with the crowd but dies peacefully whilst being paraded back to St. Peters Basilica. Ewa Novak is pregnant with another child. Sister Lisette is able to visit her dying mother. Sister Caterina gives birth to her baby and leaves the nunnery, reuniting with a released Faisal. Back in England, Pope Emeritus John Paul III is finally re-embraced by his parents and is later visited by Sofia. Voiello succeeds Pius XIII as the new pope, having adopted Esther's child.


The New Pope production began in Italy in late 2018. [13] Filming took place inside St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City in November 2018. Some scenes were shot in Milan in January and February 2019.[ citation needed ] The production crew also filmed in Venice in January and April 2019. [14] [15] Most of the filming took place at Cinecittà, in Rome. The crew returned to Rome to film at the St. Peter's Square in March 2019. [16] Additional scenes were shot in Abruzzo and on the river Piave. [17] The opening sequence of the series with dancing nuns was filmed inside San Giorgio Monastery in Venice. [18]


The series had its world premiere on 1 September 2019 at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, where episodes 2 and 7 were screened out of competition. [19] It debuted on television on 10 January 2020 on Sky Atlantic in Italy, [20] on 12 January on Sky Atlantic in the UK and Ireland [21] and on 13 January on HBO and Canal+. [22] [23]


The official teaser for the series was released on 28 August 2019. [5] The second teaser trailer premiered on 3 November 2019. [24] The official full trailer was released on 10 December 2019. [25]

Critical reception

The series received positive response from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 90% based on 49 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though its predecessor's shadow looms large, devout fans will still find much to like in The New Pope's exploration of power dynamics and sumptuous strangeness." [26] On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 12 critics, signifying "generally favorable reviews." [27]


  1. Marcello Romolo is credited with the main cast in "Episode 1", while he is credited as guest starring in "Episode 3".

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