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24 September 2014
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Hugh Bonneville plays poet Philip Larkin in the BBC TWO film Love Again

Hugh Bonneville stars in Love Again, a new film for BBC TWO based on the life of poet Philip Larkin, it was announced by Jane Root, Controller BBC TWO.

Using privileged access to unpublished letters and recordings of his work which feature across the soundtrack of the film, Love Again, written by Richard Cottan, examines the last 30 years in the life of the poet from his appointment to Hull University Library to his death from cancer in 1985.

The film centres on Larkin's complex relationships with his mother, Eva, and the three very different women who were his lovers, despite his emotional inability to commit to any of them: Monica Jones, a fellow lecturer who inspired his first published collection of poems, The Less Deceived; Maeve Brennan, a library assistant and strict Catholic; and Betty Mackereth, his stoic secretary.

With new material provided by Maeve Brennan and Jean Hartley (Larkin's former publisher), and with support from the Larkin Society at Hull University, Love Again will be an authentic portrait of one of the foremost figures of 20th century poetry.

"BBC TWO's commitment to the arts will be strengthened this year with some landmark programmes designed to capture the imagination of our audience and inspire lovers of literature everywhere," says Jane Root, Controller BBC TWO.

"Love Again, starring Hugh Bonneville as poet Philip Larkin, is the first of three dramas celebrating the lives of some of Britain's foremost writers and starring some of the biggest names in British film.

"Later in the year there's Nick Dear's two-part drama about Byron starring Jonny Lee Miller and Guy Jenkin's film about Samuel Pepys.

"The literary season begins with the launch of Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With) on St Valentine's Day and continues throughout the year with The Big Read, which aims to get the whole nation reading the world's best loved books.

"Reading is a hugely personal experience and I think that this season, with key pieces like Love Again, will help to get inside the minds of the great writers and their works like never before and turn them into an enjoyable, shared experience."

Love Again also stars Dame Eileen Atkins as Larkin's mother Eva; Tara Fitzgerald as Monica; Amanda Root as Maeve; and Lorraine Ashbourne as Betty. Ben Miles and Sarah Smart play his publishers George and Jean Hartley.

Writer Richard Cottan says: "Whilst there's no denying Larkin's reactionary saloon-bar politics they shouldn't be allowed to outweigh his humour, sensitivity and, above all, genius in shedding light on ordinary lives.

"This film is an attempt to capture the essence of Philip Larkin and reclaim him both as a man and as one of the sharpest and most readable poets of the last century."

Love Again, due for transmission this Winter, is directed by Susanna White (Emmy-nominated for her documentary about W H Auden, Tell Me The Truth About Love) and produced by Simon Heath.

The 75-minutes film is produced by World Productions for BBC TWO.

The Executive Producer is Roger Thompson, BBC Arts.

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