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Christopher Eccleston will play Winston Smith in a new two-part radio dramatisation of George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
It will be the first time it has been dramatised by BBC Radio 4 – almost 70 years after the writer worked at the corporation’s Broadcasting House.
Orwell, who died on 21 January 1950 aged 46, is being celebrated in a season of programmes on Radio 4. Orwell partly based the book’s torture area, Room 101, on a meeting room in the building he remembered from his time at the BBC.
Orwell – the pen name of Eric Blair – worked at Broadcasting House in London during the 1940s and recalled it being “a cross between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum”.
Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in 1949 and that year David Niven (for NBC University Theatre) became the first actor to play the role of central character Smith. Ecclestone (above) joins a long list of distinguished ‘Smiths’ including Edmond O’Brien, Patrick Troughton and John Hurt.
The new dramatisation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which also stars Pippa Nixon and Tim Piggott-Smith, will begin on February 10.
It is part of a season of programmes, called The Real George Orwell, devoted to the writer and his work. They include a dramatisation of Animal Farm, featuring Tamsin Greig and Toby Jones, and adaptations of Homage To Catalonia, Burmese Days and Down And Out In Paris And London.