Vanessa Redgrave, David Gyasi, Joanna Vanderham & More To Star In BBC One’s ‘Man In An Orange Shirt’

BBC One has set the cast for Man In An Orange Shirt.

Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave (The Thirteenth Tale), David Gyasi (The Interceptor), Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise), Julian Morris (New Girl), Oliver Jackson Cohen (Emerald City) and James McArdle (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) have been cast in the two-part drama from British novelist Patrick Gale which explores two inter-twined gay love stories.

Man In An Orange Shirt tells two gay love stories, set sixty years apart, which are linked by family, and by a painting that holds a secret that echoes down the generations. Gale described the project as being “two hour long films”, one in the 1940s/1950s and one in the present day. The first love story is made impossible by pressures from society, while the second is nearly derailed by the long-term fall-out from the 1940s story.

Vanessa Redgrave will play Flora, whose fiancé Michael fell in love with another man in 1944 and now in 2017 she sees a similar situation arise with her grandson; David Gyasi has been set as Steve, who forms a tentative relationship with Flora’s grandson; Joanna Vanderham will play the younger Flora in the first episode, set in the 1940s; Julian Morris plays Flora’s grandson Adam; Oliver Jackson Cohen is British Army Captain Michael Berryman, Flora’s fiancé who falls for war artist Thomas March in Southern Italy in 1944; while James McArdle will play March.

Rounding out the cast is Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey), Julian Sands (24), Angel Coulby (Merlin), Charlie Wernham (Bad Education), Tommy Bastow (The Cut) and newcomer James Godden. The two-parter, penned by Patrick Gale, is set up at Endemol’s flagship UK production label Kudos, with the indie’s CEO Diederick Santer serving as an executive producer alongside the BBC’s Acting Controller of Drama Commissioning Lucy Richer. Lisa Osborne is the producer, while Any Human Heart helmer Michael Samuels has come on-board to direct. Production is now underway in and around London for a 2017 premiere.

“This was an incredible commission for a novelist unused to writing for television to receive and I seized it with both hands. As a writer who has long celebrated and explored alternative sexualities and hidden lives in his fiction, I’d been impatient for the BBC to do something similar for a mainstream audience. I was so flattered when they and Kudos came to me that I quite forget to be appropriately daunted by the enormity of the challenge: represent gay men’s experience in the 20th century”, writer Patrick Gale said in a statement.

“I hope I’ve come up with a story that finds the universal resonance in the marginalised”, he continued. “To then see it fleshed out by such a five star cast, including one of my lifelong heroines in Vanessa, is incredible. I’ve only watched two days’ shooting and the daily rushes so far, but already I’m getting that fizzy feeling, finding the scenes and characters I’ve been carrying around with me for the last half-decade so lovingly brought to life. Already I can see that the look of the show is going to be incredible. Here’s hoping it starts a national conversation.”