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28 October 2014

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Sarah Parish as Beatrice, Billie Piper as Hero and Damian Lewis as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing

The Making of Much Ado About Nothing - page three

Diederick Santer is a producer for BBC Drama Series & Serials, where he produced the first three series of the hit hairdressing drama Cutting It. He has also worked as a script editor for Granada and for United Productions, where we worked on ITV series including The Last Train, Always and Everyone and the first two series of Where The Heart Is.

Here he describes the process of producing the BBC ONE updating of Much Ado About Nothing.

Cast and director

As a producer, you can find yourself in the tiring position of having to endlessly 'sell' your idea to everyone. But this script sold itself. Rising star director Brian Percival was in big demand after his recent period drama North and South, but loved the script and wanted to direct it. The talented, funny, beautiful Sarah Parish (with whom I'd had a great time working on Cutting It) agreed to play Beatrice as soon as she'd read it. (This was lucky, as she was the only actress we'd thought of for the part.)

We were told early on that Damian Lewis - one of the finest and most versatile actors of his generation - was committed to a film, so we counted him out of our thinking. But when that film got delayed his agent was instantly on the phone to ask whether we'd found our Benedick, and would we consider him for the part. Not the toughest decision I've ever made.

Billie Piper was finishing filming the first series of Doctor Who. Despite being busy stopping the Daleks from invading the universe (and coping with the consequences of looking into the heart of the Tardis), she found the time to meet us and to make the part of Hero her own. She'd learnt all the correct pronunciations for the weather terms and everything!

Bagging such prestigious actors and comic talents as Martin Jarvis, Patrick Ryecart, Nina Sosanya, Tom Ellis, Derek Riddell, Olivia Colman, and more gave us 'strength in depth' as football managers like to say.


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