Category: TV Drama; BBC TWO
Production commenced this week on Neal Street Productions' adaptation of Alexander Masters' critically-acclaimed biography Stuart: A Life Backwards for BBC TWO and HBO Films.
Tom Hardy (The Virgin Queen; Black Hawk Down) stars as Stuart Shorter alongside Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking; Starter For Ten) as Alexander Masters in the 90-minute film for television, directed by David Attwood (To The Ends of the Earth).
When Stuart Shorter - a homeless alcoholic with a violent past - meets writer and charity worker Alexander Masters, they strike up an unlikely friendship.
As Alexander learns more about Stuart's complicated life and traumatic childhood, he asks if he can write his story and Stuart advises him to tell the story backwards, so that it's "more exciting - like a Tom Clancy murder mystery".
As their remarkable alliance develops, Stuart gradually recounts his life story in reverse, his resilient personality and dry sense of humour giving the story an almost tragi-comic edge.
Through post office heists, attempts at suicide and spells inside numerous institutions, Alexander is given a glimpse into a totally alien world and begins to understand how Stuart's life spiralled so badly out of control.
Alexander Masters, writer of Stuart: A Life Backwards, said: "How gloriously exciting and totally peculiar! Benedict on television playing me, Tom Hardy playing Stuart - now that's a first Stuart would have enjoyed, somebody actually wanting to be him!
"I wish he was still here so we could be astonished together - then go out, whoop it up and get rat-a***d!"
Producer of the adaptation for Neal Street Productions, Pippa Harris, commented: "Alexander's script preserves the book's brilliant, anarchic quality. It's a story told backwards, a biopic of an unknown man which mixes humour and terrible tragedy: it breaks all the rules.
"We've also been lucky enough to have both Alexander and Stuart's family on hand to advise our leads - an extraordinary situation and one which brings an extra dimension to the film."
Julie Gardner, Head of Drama for BBC Wales, continued: "Stuart: A Life Backwards is an exceptional and unique memoir and I am confident that, with the help of a truly first-rate cast, the biography's astonishing cocktail of violence, humour and tragic loss will be recreated magnificently on screen."
Stuart: A Life Backwards is executive produced by Sam Mendes and Tara Cook for Neal Street Productions, and Julie Gardner for the BBC.
It was commissioned for BBC TWO by Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning.
In 2005 the original memoir Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters was nominated for the BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, as well as being shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year Award (Biography Category) and the British Book Awards: Biography of the Year.
Filming of Stuart: A Life Backwards begins this week in London and Cambridge.