BBC One has ordered a new drama about Joseph Merrick – better known as The Elephant Man, from New Pictures starring Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton.

Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, the 2×90’ series is written by Neil McKay (Moorside).

The Elephant Man follows the life of Joseph Merrick from his working-class beginnings in Leicestershire, through the work-houses, music halls and freak shows that punctuated 19th Century culture and society; to his time at the London Hospital and his vital friendship with Dr Frederick Treves. Starting with his birth and ending with his death, McKay’s adaptation covers the true events of Merrick’s personal odyssey, his extreme courage, determination and human dignity despite challenges arising from his disability. It explores the mysteries that surround Merrick and the man behind the myth.

Charlie Heaton says: “I’m extremely excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to take on the portrayal of Joseph Merrick in the BBC’s adaption of The Elephant Man. This is such a special role and a challenge for any actor. Joseph has such an incredible story and I can’t wait to go on this journey and bring him to life.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Neil’s scripts, chronicling Joseph’s life in its entirety, will shed new light on this story bringing greater depth and humanity to it than ever before. Charlie Heaton promises to be extraordinary in the lead role and we are excited to be telling this powerful, resonant story on BBC One.”

Elaine Pyke, Executive Producer for New Pictures, says: “It wasn’t until we started the research that we realised there was such a rich story to tell about this wonderful man. Joseph’s determination to be his own man, to earn a living, to find a sense of freedom and to express himself is inspiring to all. Neil McKay’s beautiful script captures this extraordinary story and we are thrilled that Charlie Heaton is going to play Joseph."

The Elephant Man (2×90’) is produced by New Pictures (The Missing, Requiem, Indian Summers, The Innocents) for BBC One in association with all3media International. The series is directed by Richard Laxton (Mum). Executive producers are Elaine Pyke and Charlie Pattinson for New Pictures with Paul Unwin and Tommy Bulfin for BBC. Producer is Tom Mullens (Poldark).
The series will be filmed in Wales. Additional casting will be announced in due course.
all3media international will handle international distribution.

Staff Reporter

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