Entertainment & Arts

Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall adapts George Orwell

George Orwell in 1943
Image caption Orwell based his book on his time washing dishes in Paris restaurants and living as a tramp in London

Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall is penning a script for a film adaptation of George Orwell's Down and Out In Paris and London.

Orwell's account of poverty in the late 1920s and early 30s was his first book.

"It's a very timely book because it's about people in the midst of a depression," Hall said.

"The destitution and poverty and hopelessness of those people... chimes with the anger that was displayed during the [English] riots last year."

The film will be shot by director Kevin Macdonald, who made The Last King Of Scotland and State of Play, Hall added.

Orwell, real name Eric Blair, based his book on his experiences and the characters he encountered while washing dishes in Paris restaurants and living as a tramp in London.

"It's really the story of how Eric Blair became George Orwell," Hall said.

"Again, it's a time of economic entrenchment. He's full of eminent common sense and it's a cry of horror at the venality, selfishness and political corruption that can allow such a state of affairs to exist.

"So it's a very nice thing to be reviving and working on because I think it is very clear-headed about injustice."

Hall has also been working on a revival of Alan Plater's play Close the Coalhouse Door, set around the history of miners' struggles for rights in the north-east.

That play, directed by Samuel West, opens at Northern Stage in Newcastle on 13 April.

Hall, who also co-wrote the script for Steven Spielberg's War Horse and penned the play The Pitmen Painters, is also writing the screenplay for a film about the life of Sir Elton John.

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