Entertainment & Arts

Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn adapt Raymond Briggs book for BBC

A scene from the TV adaptation of Ethel and Ernest Image copyright Lupus Films
Image caption The hand-drawn animation tells the story of Raymond Briggs and his parents

Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn are set to play the parents of the author Raymond Briggs in an animated adaptation of his book, Ethel and Ernest.

The film will tell the autobiographical story of the couple's life through four decades of marriage from the late 1920s to the early 1970s.

Broadbent and Blethyn will be joined by Luke Treadaway, Virginia McKenna and June Brown.

It will be shown on the BBC next year.

Ethel and Ernest was one of Briggs' best-selling books, alongside The Snowman and When The Wind Blows.

In response to news of the film adaptation he remarked: "My mother's reaction would no doubt have been: 'Oh, Ernest! We're going to be on the pictures! We might even be at the Odeon in Wimbledon!'"

"It's truly inspiring"

Image copyright Lupus Films
Image caption Broadbent, Treadaway and Blethyn will be voicing the animated characters

Broadbent, an Oscar-winner for Iris and Blethyn, an Oscar nominee for Secrets and Lies, will be joined behind the microphone by Luke Treadaway, voicing the part of Briggs.

Treadaway has won plaudits for his performance on stage in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

Broadbent remarked: "It's such a beautiful book by a wonderful artist. It's truly inspiring; a great, honest story of a whole generation. It's lovely and irresistible."

Brenda Blethyn added: "I adore working with Jim Broadbent. We've worked together before and it's great to come back together to play these wonderful characters. They lived through two wars and it's so, so reminiscent of my own parents' life in so many ways. Ethel even looks like my mum!"

The animation will be directed by animator Roger Mainwood, who worked as an animator on TV versions of The Snowman, Peter Rabbit and The Wind In The Willows.

He said: "It's a real privilege to be directing the feature film of Ethel and Ernest, which many consider to be Raymond Brigg's masterpiece. Time will tell if the end result does the book justice, but so far Raymond has loved everything he has seen.

"We are also delighted with the quality of the voice cast. Brenda and Jim are absolutely bang on as the title characters and the other actors bring an enormous amount of charm and character to their roles."

An adaptation of another popular Briggs' book, Fungus the Bogeyman, will be shown on Sky One this Christmas.

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