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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Depp hosts Radio 2 Dean tribute
Johnny Depp
Depp is currently filming the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels
Hollywood star Johnny Depp presented a BBC Radio 2 documentary on Tuesday about film idol James Dean to mark the 50th anniversary of the actor's death.

The programme, entitled Rebel Without A Cause - The James Dean Legacy, featured interviews with Dennis Hopper, Sir Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman and David Bailey.

Depp is one of several film celebrities to host programmes on the BBC station.

BBC Two's Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home drew 1.8 million viewers on Monday, an 8.3% audience share.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the first instalment of the two-part documentary was beaten in the ratings by BBC One's Waking the Dead, ITV1's Rose and Maloney and Channel 4's Wife Swap.

An Arena special, No Direction Home attracted the same number of viewers as Five's The Greatest TV Talent Show Moments.

Rebellious youth

Johnny Depp's BBC Radio 2 documentary came after Brad Pitt hosted a Nick Drake tribute last year, while Val Kilmer presents a Marlon Brando profile on 2 October.

Depp was compared to Dean early in his career and was tipped to play the Giant star in a rumoured film a decade ago.

The BBC said Dean's "sensitive, moody and tormented portrayal of rebellious youth inspired a generation of disaffected teenagers".

"Johnny Depp highlights the artistic passion that drove this country boy from rural Indiana to become a 20th century icon."

James Dean
Dean starred in only three movies before his death in 1955
According to the Radio Times, Depp personally persuaded actor Martin Landau - one of Dean's best friends - to appear on the programme.

Depp appeared with Landau in the 1994 film Ed Wood. The latter received an Academy Award for his performance in the movie.

However, presenter and columnist Mark Lawson has criticised Radio 2's current wave of "superstar presentation".

"Where will it end?" he asks in Tuesday's Guardian. "Melodies for You with Jack Nicholson, or Julia Roberts's Friday Night is Music Night?"

He also suggests that Depp's "low Kentucky mumble" is not ideally suited to radio voiceover work.

"If there are any old Aldershot soldiers or retired headmistresses among the audience, they are going to spend a lot of time shouting 'Speak up'," he writes.

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