BBC Two has ordered The Importance Of Being Oscar, an eighty minute documentary exploring the work of Oscar Wilde from the Banijay owned indie IWC. The one-off documentary is something of a hybrid production featuring both standard documentary elements as well as performances of Wilde’s greatest works.
A range of experts, enthusiasts and biographers – including Stephen Fry, Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland, and his latest biographer Matthew Sturgis – will explore Wilde’s glittering and at times, scandalous career, which would inform his work, and his subsequent disgraced exit from high society. Freddie Fox, Claire Skinner, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet are all set to star in performances in the one-off.
The Importance Of Being Oscar is set to air on BBC Two in 2020. Richard Curson Smith is directing for IWC, while Franny Moyle is the executive producer. Banijay Rights will handle global distribution. It was commissioned by Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for BBC Arts. “I am very happy to bring this stylish documentary to BBC Two”, he said. “Following Wilde’s brilliant rise and using the work itself, the film gives viewers a new perspective and shines a light on both the man and his inspiration. It is easy to for Wilde’s genius to be eclipsed by the scandal of his fall. The film reminds us of the delight of his prose and the plays that made him famous before his infamous end.”
While executive producer Franny Moyle added: “The time is really ripe for a re-evaluation of Oscar Wilde’s life and work on television. We felt that the story of Oscar’s trial, imprisonment and the final years have been well covered. But the story of his fuller life, and the importance and brilliance of the work he created before his fall deserved fuller attention alongside an account of his tragic demise. There have been new biographies recently that have revealed much about the man, and looking again at his plays it is clear they have a modernity and relevance that is startling. We are delighted to have secured such a stellar cast of actors and commentators to bring this to life for BBC Two’s viewers”.