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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Rodent role for Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans features in the movie about lab rats
A British comedy starring Rhys Ifans and Martin Clunes - which was funded by the writer selling his home and car - receives its first screening on Thursday night.

The low-budget production was shot on location in north Wales and is being exclusively previewed in Wrexham on Thursday.

Actor Martin Clunes
Martin Clunes provides one of the rodent voices

Labrats tells the story of three incompetent criminals plotting to kidnap a group of valuable laboratory mice.

However, as a subplot, the mice have formed an escape committee and plan their own bid for freedom.

Comedians Sir Norman Wisdom, Sir Donald Sinden, Martin Clunes, John Thomson, Michael Brandon and Ruthin born Rhys Ifans provide the rodents' voices.

The film took three years to complete and was made on a shoestring budget - with writer Paul Brannigan forced to sell his possessions in order to finish the project.

Rhys was the last one to come on board but he loves the fact that there's a film made in the Wrexham area

Richard Knew, Co-producer

Co-producer Richard Knew said money was a big issue.

"Compared to films like The Full Monty, the budget was minuscule," he said.

"The writer sold his house and car to make this film and we've all contributed our time and equipment for free."

Mr Knew said despite the film's tiny budget, big-budget stars were keen to work on the project.

"Martin Clunes loved the script and thought it was really funny," he said.

"He was really helpful and said he would do it because he knows how difficult it is to start out in film making.

Film makers

"Rhys was the last one to come on board but he loves the fact that there's a film made in the Wrexham area."

The Ruthin-born actor agreed to feature in the film after Robbie Coltrane rejected the offer due to his commitments with the Harry Potter movie.

The locations are great and it's an untapped resource - it's a wonderful area

Paul Brannigan, writer

Paul Brannigan said he was pleased to be working in picturesque north Wales.

"We filmed on top of Dinas Bran, the Horseshoe Pass and we had a studio set up around Valle Crucis.

"We filmed at a disused mine in Minera and we shot scenes in pubs and clubs round Wrexham," he added.

Thursday's screening has been organised in conjunction with the Wales Screen Commission who will open a regional office in Wrexham.

More news from north east Wales
See also:

20 Sep 00 | UK
Premièring the Rhyl thing
10 Mar 00 | Wales
Rhys Ifans opens arts centre
20 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Welsh debut for Rancid movie
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