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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC Four signs Christopher Eccleston to star in title role as John Lennon

Christopher Eccleston is to star in Lennon Naked, a major one-off drama from Blast! Films for BBC Four.

Lennon Naked charts his transition from "Beatle John" to enduring and enigmatic icon. It covers a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1967-71; a time of worldwide adulation at one extreme, a combination of frustration and despair at the other.

Writer Robert Jones articulates the burden of genius, as well as issues of fatherhood and fame in this 90-minute film.

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning says: "Securing Christopher Eccleston to play John Lennon is further testament to the calibre of drama on BBC Four. The Women We Loved season currently on air is attracting record audiences and the channel is steadily building a reputation for portraying some of this country's best loved icons."

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: "BBC Four is the place where dramas look to explore that space between artists' public works and private lives, shedding light on the artistic process while offering intelligent entertainment."

When The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein died unexpectedly in 1967, it was a turning point in John Lennon's life. The film focuses on the turbulent and intense period of change that followed, and how John was haunted by his troubled childhood.

The film reveals the impact of re-establishing contact with his long lost father Freddie and the events that led John to shed everything both personally and creatively – from divorcing his long-suffering wife Cynthia, to changing his name and ultimately calling time on The Beatles.

Meeting Yoko Ono was the catalyst for this new era and the film explores the development of their extraordinary relationship. Together they experimented with both the musical and artistic avant garde but in doing so become outsiders.

It looks at their growing disillusionment with Britain and what caused John to abandon the UK to start a new life in America. A process that included John harnessing the power of radical Primal Scream psychotherapy to lay the ghosts of his past and go on to record arguably the most powerful solo work of his career.

Key cast also include Christopher Fairbank as Freddie Lennon, Naoko Mori as Yoko Ono, Claudie Blakley as Cynthia Lennon, Rory Kinnear as Brian Epstein, Allan Corduner at Art Janov, Michael Colgan as Derek Taylor and Andrew Scott as Paul McCartney.

Lennon Naked is currently filming in London; the 90-minute drama is written by Robert Jones (The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Party Animals) and will air in 2010. The director and co-producer is Edmund Coulthard (Tales From Pleasure Beach, Soundproof); co- producer is Katherine Lannon (The Secret Life Of Mrs Beeton, The History Of Mr Polly) for Blast! Films, and BBC executive producer is Kate Evans.

Commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning and Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four.

MO

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