Rebecca Ferguson scoops lead role in BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory"s The Cousins" War novels


The White Queen: Rebecca Ferguson scoops lead role in BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory's The Cousins' War novels

|

UPDATED:

08:32 GMT, 31 August 2012

Swedish model and actress Rebecca Ferguson has landed the biggest television role of the year.

She has been cast to play The White Queen in a mammoth ten-part BBC drama based on Philippa Gregory's The Cousins' War novels about the women of the Wars of the Roses.

Rebecca, who is based in Stockholm, did audition after audition, joining scores of other actresses up for the role of Elizabeth Woodville, a widowed Lancastrian commoner with two children who falls in love with Edward IV, a member of the family of York.

The actress did her final audition on Bank Holiday Monday with Max Irons, who had already been signed to portray Edward. /08/31/article-2196026-14BC7D03000005DC-70_634x540.jpg” width=”634″ height=”540″ alt=”The Cousins War: Actresses Rebecca Ferguson, centre, who will plays The White Queen with Amanda Hale, left, who plays Margaret Beaufort and Faye Marsay who plays Anne Neville ” class=”blkBorder” />

The Cousins War: Actresses Rebecca Ferguson, centre, who will plays The White Queen with Amanda Hale, left, who plays Margaret Beaufort and Faye Marsay who plays Anne Neville

Thirty
minutes later, producer Gina Cronk was in the lobby of Rebecca's London
hotel, waiting to take her for costume fittings, make-up tests and to a
hairdresser to have her brown tresses lightened.

Later, she joined other cast members for a read through of the scripts, which were written by Emma Frost.

It's
an impressive ensemble. Amanda Hale will play Margaret Beaufort – who
becomes Elizabeth's bitter rival. Faye Marsay and Eleanor Tomlinson will
portray Anne and Isabel Neville, daughters of Lord Warwick, the
so-called Kingmaker (played by James Frain).

Award-winning
Janet McTeer will play sorceress Jacquetta, Elizabeth's mother, who
uses her magical powers to help her daughter capture the king's heart.

The
women work behind the scenes, scheming ruthlessly to help their lovers,
and their children, and will stop at nothing to gain – or keep – the
throne. In terms of the menfolk, Aneurin Barnard will play Richard, Duke
of Gloucester, David Oakes will be George, Duke of Clarence, and Tom
McKay will portray Jasper Tudor.

Other key parts have gone to Robert Pugh, Juliet Aubrey, Frances Tomelty and Michael Maloney. Director James Kent will begin filming on locations in Bruges next week.

Ms Gregory's Cousins' War books were huge best-sellers and there's already talk that Ben Stephenson, BBC television's drama chief, is thinking of commissioning a second series next year.

Curtains for Shrek as Mendes moves in

With a tenacity that James Bond would
admire, Sam Mendes — director of the latest 007 adventure — has managed
to get Shrek moved out of a West End theatre next year so he can put
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on there instead.

More from Baz Bamigboye…

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Downton Abbey's Lady Edith becomes a West End girl in theatre debut
30/08/12

Cornetto caper for 'go to funny girl' Rosamund Pike

10/08/12

Heads it's Lia – tails it's Kristin: The toss of a coin will decide leading lady for Harold Pinter's revived play

09/08/12

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: It's a true love effect for Billie Piper's stage debut
02/08/12

Freeze up on set Not any more, says red hot Keira Knightley
02/08/12

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Why Frances de la Tour is Alan Bennett's People person in new play
27/07/12

Failing Superstar's threat to Theatreland: Concern over the reality show's effect on the West End
19/07/12

Higgins is a fair cop for Dominic: West to star in My Fair Lady
19/07/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Mendes, who made the soon-to-be-released Bond film Skyfall, always wanted the Theatre Royal Drury Lane for the musical based on Roald Dahl’s classic book, but it wasn’t available — until now.

So at first his design team, led by Mark Thompson, measured up the nearby Prince Edward Theatre for set models.

Then the show’s producers at Warner Bros Theatre Ventures and Neal Street Productions agreed a deal for Charlie to go to the London Palladium — which meant Thompson and his associates had to construct new set models, based on the Palladium’s dimensions.

But Mendes never really fancied the Palladium: it’s a variety house, not a proper home for musicals.

I’ve been expecting Mr Bond’s director to pull this off since I started hearing rumours months ago about a desire to bypass the Palladium and go straight for the Drury Lane, but these were strenuously denied.

More than one executive involved with Charlie told me, very forcefully, that the talk was ‘totally untrue’. This is showbusiness, folks, so I should have known I was being told big fat porkies.

Now, Thompson has been inside Drury Lane with his measuring tape and, once again, re-adjusted his blueprints. And Shrek will give its last performance there on February 24.

Bill Damaschke, head of DreamWorks Theatricals said the show would tour the UK in 2014.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory will start previewing at Drury Lane on May 18, with an official first night in June.

You may wonder how a plot like this has all come about without blood being splattered across theatre-land.

Well, Caro Newling and Sam Mendes, through their Neal Street company, were also involved in producing Shrek. And while Shrek was always packed over the Friday-Saturday-Sunday period, it struggled mightily during the week.

At least it had a decent run, and played better than when it was butchered on Broadway.

Damaschke commented in a statement: ‘Of course it is not without sadness that we have decided to leave next year, but it is some consolation that Sam and Caro will retain the lease of this remarkable building.’

Sam Mendes
Watch out for…

Oliver
Ford Davies, who will again star in David Wood’s adaptation of Michelle
Magorian’s charming novel Goodnight Mr Tom.

Mr Davies, one of our great
actors, first played the role at the Chichester Festival Theatre a few
seasons back.

The play tells the story of a young boy who is evacuated
from his dismal London home during the Battle of Britain to stay with a
reclusive gentleman who befriends him.

One to watch out for: Oliver Ford Davies as Tom Oakley in Goodnight Mister Tom

One to watch out for: Oliver Ford Davies as Tom Oakley in Goodnight Mister Tom

It opens at the West End’s
Phoenix Theatre (the first time the theatre has been free in years,
after the long run of Blood Brothers) from November 22.

It will have a
nine-week run there, then tour.

Francois
Cluzet and Omar Sy, who star in Untouchable: a heartwarming
movie about Driss (Sy), a man from the wrong side of the tracks who’s
so full of street cred it hurts.

He’s hired to look after Philippe
(Cluzet), a fabulously wealthy Parisian who also happens to be an
art-loving quadriplegic.

Some
of the scenes are so funny — but I won’t give any away, because this is
a picture to be savoured and enjoyed.

I will just say that Sy knows how
to shake it to Earth Wind & Fire.

I nearly forgot to tell you that
it has French subtitles.

That’s because the film’s so engaging you
barely notice. And the two leads are terrific.

It opens here on
September 21. Go see it and have a laugh.

Ciaran
Hinds, who will star in the film version of John Banville’s
award-winning novel The Sea, about a retired art historian who revisits
his past.

It’s expected to start filming at locations in Cork soon and
will also star Sinead Cusack, Charlotte Rampling, Natascha McElhone and
Rufus Sewell.

The movie has been in development for several years but
Hinds and Sewell have always stuck by it.