Eddie Marsan (Happy Go Lucky, Tyrannosaur, War Horse) and Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey, The Trip) have been cast to star in The Best Of Men, a 90-minute single drama written by Lucy Gannon (The Children, Soldier Soldier, Bramwell) for BBC Two.
The Best Of Men is the remarkable and uplifting true story of the birth of the Paralympic Games and its visionary creator Dr Ludwig Guttmann.
In 1944, Guttmann, a talented neurologist, arrived at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and against the odds transformed its Spinal Injuries Unit into a place of miracles, hope and determination.
Writer Lucy Gannon says: “The more I discovered about Dr Ludwig Guttmann, the more intrigued I became. His story is amazing and he really is an unsung hero, the man who revolutionised life for paralysed people."
Eddie Marsan plays Dr Guttmann; an inspirational doctor who transforms the lives of his patients and staff. Rejecting the general view that paralysis was a terminal condition, Guttmann threw out the old care regime and brought in a new philosophy - to get all his patients to live full and useful lives. Sport was his big idea and he used it to help build physical strength as well as self-respect.
Rob Brydon (Gavin And Stacey, The Trip) plays Sergeant Wynn Bowen; a Welsh soldier with a large personality, whose life is forever changed after he’s paralysed and admitted to Stoke Mandeville under the care of Dr Guttmann.
Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, adds: “Lucy Gannon has written a moving human story that reveals the largely unknown history behind the birth of the Paralympic Games, which is particularly poignant as it will be broadcast on BBC Two in the same year the UK will host the London 2012 Games.”
Also starring George MacKay (Defiance, Birdsong) who plays William Gardiner; Niamh Cusack (In Love With Alma Cogan, Heartbeat) as Nurse Edwards; Nigel Lindsay (Four Lions, Shrek the Musical) as Mr Gardiner; Ben Owen-Jones (Dalziel & Pascoe) as Neil; David Proud (EastEnders) as Jeremy and Richard McCabe (Wallander, The Duchess) as Dr Cowan.
The Best Of Men was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two. The director is Tim Whitby and the producer is Harriet Davison from Whitby Davison Productions. The BBC executive producer is Matthew Read.
Notes to Editors
In 1948, on the same day that the London Olympics opened, Guttmann hosted the very first Stoke Mandeville Games in the grounds of the Hospital, now referred to as the 1948 International Wheelchair Games.
In 1952, the Stoke Mandeville Games became an international event when a team from Holland came to England to participate.
Guttmann’s vision for an international event to be held in parallel with the Olympics became a reality in 1960, when the games were held in Rome, Italy alongside the official IOC.