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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Brian Cox and Lindsay Duncan to join Andrew Buchan in Alan Bleasdale's The Sinking Of The Laconia for BBC Two

Andrew Buchan (Party Animals, The Fixer) and rising German star Ken Duken (Inglorious Basterds, Bavarian TV Award winner for Willkommen Zuhause) are joined by Brian Cox (Manhunter, The Bourne Supremacy, The Take) and Lindsay Duncan (GBH, Longford, Rome) in The Sinking Of The Laconia, a powerful new two-part drama for BBC Two from acclaimed writer Alan Bleasdale (Boys From The Blackstuff, GBH, Jake's Progress).

The drama tells the true story of the amazing heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity during the Second World War.

Brian Cox plays Captain Sharp, whose armed British vessel, the RMS Laconia, was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat 156 on 12 September 1942.

Also on board was 3rd officer Thomas Mortimer (Buchan), who heroically risked his life to help the passengers reach the lifeboats.

Six hundred miles from the coast of Africa, the mixture of English civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian Prisoners of War faced certain death until U-Boat Commander Werner Hartenstein (Duken) made a decision that went against the orders of Nazi High Command.

The U-boat surfaced and Hartenstein instructed his men to save as many of the shipwrecked survivors as they could.

Over the next few days the U-156 saved 400 people, with 200 people crammed on board the surface-level submarine and another 200 in lifeboats.

Hartenstein gave orders for messages to be sent out to the Allies to organise a rescue of the survivors but, in an unbelievable twist, they were spotted by an American B-24 bomber who moved in to attack.

The Sinking Of The Laconia takes a look at the human side of the remarkable events that took place: the friendships that developed, the small acts of heroism, and the triumph of the human spirit in the most incredible of situations.

The cast also includes some of Germany's biggest names, including Matthias Koeberlin, Frederick Lau and Thomas Kretschmann.

Laconia is a TalkbackThames production, in association with Teamworx and ARD.

The executive producers for TalkbackThames are Johnathan Young, Lorraine Heggessey and Sara Geater, and the executive producer for the BBC is Matthew Read. For Teamworx, the executive producers are Nico Hofmann, Klaus Zimmerman and Dr Jürgen Schuster.

The director is Uwe Janson.

It was commissioned in 2008 by former Controller of BBC Two, Roly Keating, and the then Controller of BBC Fiction, Jane Tranter.

Filming began last week on the 67th anniversary of the sinking of The Laconia.


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