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24 September 2014
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A tale of sex and royal intrigue in the Court of King Henry VIII is brought alive in The Other Boleyn Girl for BBC TWO

Natascha McElhone, Jodhi May, Jared Harris and Steven Mackintosh star in The Other Boleyn Girl, a tale of sex and royal intrigue for BBC TWO, Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, announced today.

The film reveals the little-known story of Mary Boleyn, who was mistress to King Henry VIII before he married her sister, Anne.

Inspired by Philippa Gregory's novel of the same name and loosely based on fact, The Other Boleyn Girl tells how the happily married Mary (McElhone) is forced by her family to become Henry VIII's mistress after catching his eye at Court.

Initially horrified by her predicament, she quickly falls in love with the young King (Harris), but whilst pregnant and in confinement, the King's wandering eye turns to her ruthless, ambitious sister (May).

Their scheming relations - including her brother George (Mackintosh) - make her step aside so Anne (May) can manoeuvre herself into becoming Queen.

Natascha McElhone has starred in Hollywood hits such as The Truman Show and The Devil's Own and stars opposite George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh's Solaris, which is released in the US later this year.

Jodhi May will be seen in leading roles in two BBC dramas this autumn - Tipping the Velvet and Daniel Deronda.

Jared Harris's (Henry VIII) credits include the films Lush, Happiness and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Steven Mackintosh (George) won an RTS award for his part in Care and has appeared in the BBC's award-winning Our Mutual Friend and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Other cast members include Philip Glenister, Jack Shepherd, John Woodvine and Ron Cook.

Award-winning producer Ruth Caleb says: "The Other Boleyn Girl tries to get behind historical events and the politics of history to explore the emotional lives of those involved.

"It's a story of love, loss and passion; about women and ambition and how the two sisters deal with power.

"The great families of the time used their daughters as pawns to gain favours from the King and the Boleyn family were anxious to thrust their girls into his orbit."

The cast have spent four weeks in workshops improvising the script together with Director Philippa Lowthorpe.

Andrew Davies is script consultant and Gregory is acting as historical script consultant.

Executive Producers are David Thompson and Alex Holmes.

Filming of the period drama begins at Berkeley Castle near Bristol next week.

The Other Boleyn Girl is the first full-length feature directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, an award-winning documentary-maker (Three Salons at the Seaside, A Childhood, A Skirt Through History).

She says: "We are doing history in a completely different way. The improvisation process should bring a freshness and modernity to the production, each actor is able to interpret their own role rather than the script presenting one writer's view of history."

David Thompson, Head of BBC Films, says: "We have been concentrating on finding new ways to approach drama, working with documentary makers moving into drama. This is a joint initiative between the BBC's drama and factual departments."

The production is the latest in a series of acclaimed films from BBC Films created through improvisation and produced by Ruth Caleb.

These include Out of Control, shown recently on BBC ONE, which won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Tomorrow La Scala! which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and will be shown on BBC TWO later this year; When I Was 12 and Last Resort.

Caleb is also producing the improvised Rehab, directed by Antonia Bird and scripted by Rona Munro, which is currently in post-production for BBC TWO, and her other recent credits include Care which won the Prix Italia for Best Drama (singles) as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama.

At the same awards, Caleb received the Alan Clarke Award for Creative Contribution to Television.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a BBC Films production for BBC TWO.



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