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29 October 2014
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Jonny Lee Miller is joined by Vanessa Redgrave to star in Byron, a drama about the greatest romantic poet of his age for BBC TWO

"Sensation is our only proof that we exist - that is why we crave it."

Jonny Lee Miller stars as the charismatic, hedonistic and wildly rebellious Lord Byron in a major two-part drama for BBC TWO about the poet's life and loves which is now in production.

Natasha Little plays his half-sister Augusta, with whom he had an incestuous affair; Camilla Power is Lady Caroline Lamb; Julie Cox is his wife Annabella.

And following her recent and acclaimed performance as Clemmie Churchill in BBC TWO's The Gathering Storm, Vanessa Redgrave is to play Lady Melbourne, Byron's confidante.

"This film offers a bravura role for Jonny Lee Miller," says Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.

"Byron will explore what it meant to be a sex-god aristo and aims to take a muscular approach to period drama.

"While focussing on Byron's energy and his desire to turn convention upside down, it will emphasise such contemporary themes as the cult of celebrity, media manipulation and the bad boy image of an outsider who wins - but despises - society's praise.

"It is a radical, anti-establishment historical drama."

Stephen Campbell Moore - who stars in Bright Young Things, Stephen Fry's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies - is Byron's friend John Cam Hobhouse; Philip Glenister is his manservant William Fletcher; and Oliver Milburn plays his Cambridge friend Scrope Davies.

Byron is a co-venture between the BBC's Drama and Arts departments.

It is written by Nick Dear, after exhaustive research, whose credits include the award-winning adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion, and is directed by Julian Farino (Flesh and Blood, Our Mutual Friend, Bob and Rose).

Ruth Baumgarten is the producer and the executive producers are BBC Head of Drama Serials Laura Mackie, Hilary Salmon and Andrea Miller, Head of Factual Television, BBC Scotland.

Byron charts the rise and fall of an irresistible and devastatingly handsome genius who had it all and threw it all away.

Byron's struggle to be accepted as a poet is dramatically reversed by the publication of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage, which turns him into an overnight success and the toast of London society.

Women throw themselves at him, but despite a passionate affair with society beauty Lady Caroline Lamb (Camilla Power) he soon tires of her and escapes into the arms of his half-sister Augusta (Natasha Little), with whom he has an illicit, incestuous affair.

Although unconcerned by society's conventions, Byron worries that a scandal will harm Augusta and on a whim proposes to the pious Annabella Millbanke (Julie Cox).

It's a love triangle that is doomed to failure. Annabella soon learns that marriage to the greatest romantic poet of his age is one of heartbreak and betrayal.

Augusta, for her part, will not let her physical relationship with Byron continue once he is married.

Byron goes into self-imposed exile, and continues his life of hedonistic pleasure in Venice - before settling into a relationship with Italian aristocrat Contessa Teresa Guicciolli (played by Branca Katic).

Eventually, as a man who has excelled in excess, he feels his passion is spent and takes up the Greek struggle for independence from the Turks.

Jonny Lee Miller is best known for his portrayal of Sick Boy in Trainspotting and his recent successes include the roles of Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park and Macleane in Plunkett and Macleane.

Natasha Little first came to attention as the scheming Rachel in This Life, and consolidated her talents as Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair.

Recently highlighted in Vogue as one of the UK's leading actresses, Natasha is soon to be seen in the hit BBC ONE drama series Spooks.

Camilla Power (Lady Caroline Lamb) played Becky Lawton in Sally Wainwright's Sparkhouse for BBC ONE.

Julie Cox takes on her first romantic lead as Annabella following roles in Dune, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The War Bride.

Byron begins shooting in February at locations in Somerset, Malta and Luxembourg.

Byron is one of a number of forthcoming original dramas on BBC TWO, including Frank Deasy's exploration of sexual manipulation in Real Men;

Peter Moffat's four-part serial about the Cambridge spy ring, Cambridge Spies;

and Donna Franceschild's The Key, which looks back on Britain's social and political history through the prism of three generations of a Clydeside family.

The film is also part of BBC TWO's strengthened commitment to the arts, with three dramas celebrating the lives of some of Britain's foremost writers.

Love Again (a film about the life of poet Philip Larkin starring Hugh Bonneville) is currently in production, and Guy Jenkin's film about Samuel Pepys starring Steve Coogan in the title role is in early pre-production.

Notes to Editors

Jonny Lee Miller set to play Byron as BBC announces ambitious slate of historical dramas and period adaptations for BBC ONE and TWO (06.11.02)

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels - including BBC THREE - as well as six BBC radio networks.



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