BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Perdita"s road to perdition: Titanic TV star lands role in gruesome 13th century drama

Perdita's road to perdition: Titanic TV star lands role in gruesome 13th century drama



21:44 GMT, 21 June 2012

Perdita Weeks: Set for sin and damnation

Perdita Weeks: Set for sin and damnation

Perdita Weeks was tossed about on the television series Titanic. And now she’s going to suffer all manner of hellish indignities in the name of God in The Heretics.

‘It’s a bit like the Borgias, with much more bloodletting,’ an executive on the production, which will shoot on locations in France and Hungary later this summer, told me.

The actress will play a non-identical twin (her sister’s yet to be cast) in the TV drama set in the 13th century, when followers of the religious movement Catharism clashed with the Pope’s emissaries in Toulouse.

Whole towns and villages were put to the sword and slaughtered.

Some fled to the supposed sanctuary of a church but were attacked and massacred — their eyes gouged out, that sort of gruesome stuff.

Perdita will play Melina who is raised, with her sibling, by members of the local aristocracy, Raymond and Marguerite of Toulouse (to be played by Jeremy Northam and Joely Richardson) after their parents are killed.

James Frain will play Pope Innocent, who sent legates to deal with the ‘menace’ in the Languedoc. What ensued was not pretty.

Ms Weeks has appeared in TV productions such as The Tudors, The Promise and the smashing version of Great Expectations, starring Douglas Booth, shown on the BBC last Christmas.

ITV, BBC and C4 are likely to be bidding for the right to show the 12-part series next year.

Anita, the merry wife of Walford
Anita Dobson is to make her Royal Shakespeare Company debut

Anita Dobson is to make her Royal Shakespeare Company debut

Anita Dobson, one of the star contestants on Strictly Come Dancing, is quickstepping into the role of Mistress Quickly to make her Royal Shakespeare Company debut.

Anita will appear as the mischievous go-between alongside the wonderful Desmond Barrit playing Falstaff, in The Merry Wives Of Windsor, which runs as part of the RSC’s winter repertoire at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from October 25.

It’s not Anita’s first brush with the Bard. She has played Gertrude in Hamlet and she told me that Merry Wives director Phillip Breen had seen her in a couple of shows.

‘He said I’d be a perfect fit because I work well with an audience. She is a bit comical, is Mistress Quickly, and I do love a good comedy,’ the actress tells me.

It’s taken a long time for the theatre establishment to take Anita seriously, although I always thought her turn as Angie Watts in EastEnders was underrated.

The same goes for Gillian Taylforth and Barbara Windsor. All three were able to capture an emotional truth amid the froth of the soap bubbles.

To be fair, the National Theatre recognised her talent when they cast her in the play Frozen several seasons ago.

And Anita is not complaining. She says she feels lucky to have had such a variety of roles over the years.

The last time the RSC did The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Judi Dench played Mistress Quickly and Anita is particularly proud to be following in her footsteps.

Watch out for…
Jason Maza, left, and Aymen Hamdouchi, right

Jason Maza, left, and Aymen Hamdouchi, right

Aymen Hamdouchi and Jason Maza, who play a pair of youths who mug wealthy targets in Dominic Savage’s provocative new play Fear, now on at the Bush Theatre in West London.

In a couple of striking moments, the hoodie duo stake out the audience and evaluate what they’re wearing. I happened to be sitting next to Savage at a preview and he told me that every line was scripted.

But it seemed scarily right in the moment as the two actors pointed to audience members and abused them for wearing Prada and Armani on their feet and backs, and a Rolex round their wrists.

I felt very exposed in one of my old Armani suits. It got extremely menacing at times — and the language is not for the faint-hearted. Some of what takes place is absurd, but the cast, which also includes Louise Delamere, Rupert Evans and Lorna Brown, is solid.

Olivia Colman and Katie Leung, who have been cast as the main leads in two parts of a quartet of TV dramas for C4 called Run. Written by Marlon Smith and Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, Run features disparate characters whose lives are interconnected.

Olivia, who starred in Rev on TV and The Iron Lady on the big screen, will play a single mother raising her two sons, to be played by brothers JJ and Billy Pamphilon.

Katie (Cho Chang in five Harry Potter films) is cast as an illegal Chinese immigrant in London at the mercy of a trafficking gang.

Neil Maskell, Gershwyn Eustache and Benedict Wong are also in the ensemble company. Others are still being cast for the drama, which is shooting now in London for the production company Acme.

Charles Edwards, who portrayed George VI in the stage version of The King’s Speech.

Edwards now serves royalty, sort of, playing Patrick Jephson (Private Secretary to Diana, Princess of Wales) in the film Caught In Flight, which stars Naomi Watts as Diana.

Geoffrey Streatfeild

Geoffrey Streatfeild

The film chronicles Diana’s
undercover affair with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Naveen
Andrews) and it suggests that her romance with Khan was true love, while
her relationship with Dodi Fayed was more friendship.

Edwards also has a part in the third series of Downton Abbey as wealthy
Michael Gregson, who emerges as a possible suitor for Laura
Carmichael’s Lady Edith.

Geoffrey Streatfeild and Claudie Blakley, who have been cast by Daniel Evans to play the bloodthirsty warrior and his vengeful wife in Macbeth, which Evans will direct at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, launching the autumn season from September 5.

Both leads are steeped in the Bard’s canon. Streatfeild gave sterling performances as Hal in Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

And Ms Blakley has been in King Lear at Sheffield and Comedy Of Errors at the National. She also played Miranda in The Tempest for Jude Kelly when she ran the West Yorkshire Playhouse.