Branagh to Play Cyrano on Radio 3

The Guardian, 18 January 2008
By Ben Dowell

**Thanks Jude, Terry, Patricia

Actor and director Kenneth Branagh is to play Cyrano de Bergerac in a BBC Radio 3 production of the play.

Branagh is returning to radio drama after a gap of more than two and a half years to star as the lovelorn Cyrano in the network's flagship programme for Easter Sunday on March 23.

The actor, who has recently directed two feature films including a version of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute", stars alongside Jodhi May, star of the recent BBC film "The Other Boleyn Girl", as Roxane, the beautiful cousin that he loves but has not the confidence to woo on account of his large nose.

Other parts in the adaptation of Edmond Rostand's classic story set in Paris in 1640 will be taken by John Shrapnel, star of the film "Gladiator" and Tom Hiddleston, who plays Christian, the man for whom Cyrano writes love letters in order to seduce Roxane.

The decision of Branagh to appear in his first radio work since Radio 3's version of "Terence Rattigan's Bequest To The Nation" in 2005 was welcomed by the station's head of speech programming, Abigail Appleton.

"I was lucky enough to watch the recording in studio of the final scenes of this new production of Cyrano de Bergerac - I hope listeners will feel as moved by the performances as I was," she said. "New radio productions of classic stage plays are at the heart of Radio 3's drama schedule alongside new writing and we are delighted to be able to bring listeners two major new productions with such distinctive casts."

Radio 3 is also adapting Tennessee Williams' story of a dysfunctional Mississippi family, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Joss Ackland, star of the film "White Mischief", plays Big Daddy in the adaptation, which will be broadcast on Sunday March 16, alongside Gemma Jones as Big Mamma, Marcus D'Amico as Brick, Elizabeth McGovern as Brick's wife Maggie, with Clive Carter as Big Daddy's son Gooper and Alison Steadman as his wife Mae.

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