Category: TV Drama
Ray Winstone is to star as Sweeney Todd, the most notorious barber who ever practised his trade, in an original screenplay by Joshua St Johnston.
Set in 18th century London, it is a dark and enthralling tale of love, obsession, murder, and ultimately redemption.
Commissioned by Peter Fincham, Controller BBC ONE, and Jane Tranter, Controller Drama Commissioning, it will be shown later this year.
Actress Essie Davis (A Streetcar Named Desire, Girl With A Pearl Earring) will co-star as Mrs Lovett, a young lady who isn't too choosy about her men or the source of meat for her pie shop.
Indeed, once Mrs Lovett is installed in a shop next to Sweeney's thriving Fleet Street business, the pair forge a complex and destructive partnership, and customers begin to disappear with alarming regularity.
The film boasts a cast that includes: Tom Hardy (Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Star Trek: The Nemesis) as Matthew Payne, an upstanding Bow Street Runner, who owes his life to Sweeney; David Warner (The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, Hornblower: Retribution) plays Sir John Fielding, author, politician and founder of the Bow Street Runners; and David Bradley (Blackpool, Filch in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban) plays Sweeney Todd's malicious father.
Eleven-year-old newcomer, Ben Walker, portrays Tobias, Sweeney's loyal yet unsuspecting apprentice.
Sweeney Todd is set in the harsh streets of London in 1765 where life is not for the faint-hearted and only the fittest will survive.
Living in the shadow of Newgate Prison, Sweeney Todd tries to carve out a quiet and simple life, until his past comes back to haunt him and he is unable to quell his inner demons.
When body parts are found in the Fleet River, Sir John Fielding orders his Bow Street Runners to investigate; but even with the threat of capture surrounding him, Sweeney Todd is unable to run away from the monster inside.
Indeed, his murderous spree only intensifies, threatening the lives of all those around him.
Producer Gub Neal says: "Ray Winstone playing the 'Demon Barber of Fleet Street' is a performance not to be missed!
"Joshua's script breaks new ground and elevates a myth that has been etched in the popular imagination into a tragic love story - a striking allegory about love, sex and death set in the 18th century."
Jane Tranter, Controller Drama Commissioning, says: "In this boldly original reworking of a classic story, Sweeney Todd is a man struggling to escape his own destiny.
"This is a gripping, authored and ambitious story which adds another, exciting and dangerous, flavour to the mix of drama on BBC ONE this year."
Sweeney Todd is a BOX TV and Size 9 co-production for BBC ONE and will shoot at Romania's leading studio production centre, MediaPro Pictures, situated outside of Bucharest. Sweeney Todd starts filming on August 29 2005.
The film is written by Joshua St Johnston and marks his television-writing debut.
The director is David Moore (Tom Brown's Schooldays, Wallis & Edward), with Gub Neal (Gunpowder Treason and Plot, Sunday) producing and Caroline Hewitt (Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Bright Young Things) co-producing.
The Size 9 producer is Emma Kingsman-Lloyd (Ultimate Force, Holby City).
The executive producers are: Justin Thomson-Glover and Patrick Irwin (BOX TV) and Ray Winstone and Michael Wiggs (Size 9 Productions).
Lucy Richer (Joint Head of Independent Drama) is executive producing for the BBC.
Notes to Editors
The programme makers:
Box TV is a leading UK independent production company specialising in premium television drama and documentaries. Founded in 2000 by Gub Neal, Emmy-winning producer and former head of drama at Granada and Channel 4, Box has produced over £35m of international programming including the multi-award winning Sunday and Gunpowder, Treason And Plot.
Box collaborates with other programme makers and broadcasters worldwide. Shortly to be seen on BBC TWO is No Direction Home - Bob Dylan, the groundbreaking film directed by Martin Scorsese about Bob Dylan, in which the famously reticent singer songwriter talks candidly about his childhood, relationships and music. This two-part film is a co-production of the BBC, Thirteen/WNET New York, PBS, Spitfire Pictures, Grey Water Park Productions, and Sikelia Productions in association with Box TV.
Size 9 Productions is a UK-based TV production company formed by actor Ray Winstone, agent and founder of CAM Michael Wiggs, and producer Joshua St Johnston (She's Gone, Messiah II:Vengeance is Mine, Buried Treasure). Size 9's debut film, She's Gone, was shown on ITV1 last September.
This year Ray Winstone is working with three of cinema's leading directors. He has just completed work on The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese, and Breaking & Entering with Anthony Minghella. Ray will go on to play the title role in Beowulf for Robert Zemeckis later this year. He is also starring in Vincent, a four-part drama for ITV which airs in the autumn.