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Starz, BBC team for Hopkins/McKellen drama

US premium cable net Starz and UK pubcaster the BBC are uniting to coproduce The Dresser, a TV adaptation of Ronald Harwood period play of the same name.

The cast will include Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings), marking the first time the veteran British actors have worked together.

Ex HBO exec Colin Callender’s increasingly active prodco Playground Entertainment will make the series for Starz and the BBC, alongside Sonia Friedman Productions.

The Dresser is set during World War II and is based on Harwood’s own experience as a ‘dresser’ for an esteemed actor. It will go out on Starz in the US and BBC Two in the UK.

The series will be shot in London and is expected to make use of the UK tax credit for high-end drama. It will shoot this year and Starz’s distribution division will handle international sales.

Starz and the BBC have a well-established coproduction relationship, having already teamed on Torchwood: Miracle Day, DaVinci’s Demons, The Missing and now The Dresser. The pair are also adapting Richard House’s thriller novel series The Kills for TV.

Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz, said, “‘We are glad to be working in partnership again with the BBC and Colin Callender on this very special project, and to be establishing a relationship with acclaimed theatre producer Sonia Friedman.”

Callender said. “It is a testament to Ronald Harwood’s glorious writing that we have been able to bring together such a wonderful creative team from the worlds of film, television and the theatre.”