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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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Gracie Fields, Margot Fonteyn and Enid Blyton to feature in season of dramas on BBC Four

Three major one-off films about the artistic careers of British female icons Margot Fonteyn, Gracie Fields and Enid Blyton will premiere this autumn in a special season of dramas on BBC Four, it was announced today.

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: "These films are sympathetic but frank dramatisations of women in the spotlight and how their backstage lives play out.

"Once again BBC Four is championing strong dramas that seek to give insight into some of Britain's most famous artists, reflecting complex lives, conflicting pressures and very human behaviour."

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, adds: "The season brings together some of the country's best actresses, writers and directors to tell the story of three very special women whose incredible body of work help defined the artistic life of a century."

Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, The Street, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard) is Gracie! in Nick Vivian's (Ted And Alice, The Mystery Of Men, Dancing Queen) romantic drama from BBC Drama Production about Gracie Fields, singer and comedienne from Rochdale who rose to fame in the Thirties – becoming the nation's darling and highest-paid film actress in the world.

Renowned for her "common touch", Gracie symbolised the indomitable spirit of Thirties Britain. Her mass appeal was unprecedented.

Beginning at the phenomenal peak of her career when her iconic status seemed indestructible, this one-off film examines Gracie's potent war-time struggle between love and duty, and the staggering long-term repercussions of her relationship with Italian-born Hollywood director Monty Banks.

The film opens a window on the complicated and fragile private life of a very public star who, despite everything, was determined to keep the nation laughing.

Jane Horrocks will sing a stunning repertoire of Gracie songs including Sally, Sing As We Go and I Never Cried So Much In All My Life.

Filming in and around London from July 2009, Gracie! is produced by Janet Tyler. The director is Brian Percival (North And South, Ruby In The Smoke, Shakespeare Re-told: Much Ado About Nothing). The executive producer is Anne Pivcevic (Little Dorrit, Sense And Sensibility, Miss Austen Regrets). Jamie Laurenson is the BBC commissioning editor.

Anne-Marie Duff (Is Anybody There, Born Equal, The Virgin Queen) will play Margot in the Amanda Coe (Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, Shameless) film from Mammoth Screen about one of the truly great dancers of our time – Margot Fonteyn.

Partly based on Meredith Daneman's biography of Fonteyn, the 90-minute drama will explore Margot's dancing partnership and complex relationship with Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev, forged at the point in her career when everyone expected her to retire.

Instead their partnership became internationally renowned and Fonteyn danced for another 17 years. The collaboration propelled them into the stratosphere of international stardom, creating a kind of celebrity that had never existed before.

Filming in and around London in June 2009, Margot was developed by Mammoth Screen's Rebecca Keane (Lost In Austen). The director is Otto Bathurst (Criminal Justice) and producer is Celia Duval (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley). The executive producers are Michele Buck (Sex Traffic) and Damien Timmer (Housewife 49) for Mammoth Screen and writer, Amanda Coe. Jamie Laurenson is the BBC commissioning editor.

Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd) leads the cast in Enid Blyton from Carnival Film & Television.

Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon, Little Dorrit) and Denis Lawson (Bleak House) also star.

One of the most recognised storytellers of all time, Enid Blyton's charming characters and classic tales have enchanted generations of children all over the world for almost 80 years.

This one-off drama follows the woman behind the enduring and compelling stories such as the beloved Famous Five, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and Noddy series. She sold more than 500 million books in 40 countries.

Enid Blyton is written by Lindsay Shapero. The director is James Hawes (The 39 Steps, Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen Of The Music Hall), and the producer is Lee Morris (My Zinc Bed; The Damned United). The executive producer at Carnival Film & Television is Sally Woodward Gentle (The Ruby In The Smoke, Whitechapel, Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!). The BBC executive producer is Eleanor Moran. Jamie Laurenson is the BBC commissioning editor.

Commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, BBC, and Richard Klein, Margot, Gracie! and Enid Blyton are the latest drama commissions for BBC Four which have also included The Curse Of Comedy season, Marie Lloyd, Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley, Barbara Cartland, Fanny Hill, Crooked House plus the forthcoming drama Breaking The Mould starring Dominic West.

AF (Gracie!, Enid Blyton)
LH/BR3 (Margot)

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