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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 15:57 GMT
Actor Tompkinson directs TV drama
Stephen Tompkinson in 2004 BBC drama In Denial of Murder
Tompkinson came to popular attention in Drop the Dead Donkey in 1990
Ballykissangel star Stephen Tompkinson is to make his directorial debut on BBC One daytime television.

The two-part series will begin with a documentary following the directing challenges facing Tompkinson, while the second part will be the play itself.

"I'm so pleased that Stephen has agreed to share with us his first, tentative steps into the art of directing," said BBC Daytime controller Jay Hunt.

Actor Tompkinson said he was "delighted to be given the opportunity".

"I was thrilled to get the call - it has opened up a new direction for me," said Tompkinson, whose extensive TV credits include Drop the Dead Donkey and Grafters.

"It's going to be a real delight to come up with something special for the daytime audience which so appreciates drama on the BBC."

New writing

BBC Daytime will also see the return of the Afternoon Play for a fourth series.

The award-winning series will include a celebration of English eccentricity in Alan Plater's Last Will and Testament of Billy Two-Sheds, starring James Bolam, as well as plays featuring performances by Rosemary Leach and Angela Lonsdale.

New writing will also be given a platform with Brief Encounters, a series of ten short dramas starring, amongst others, Ralf Little, Keith Barron, Frances Barber and Imogen Stubbs.

The fledgling writers have developed their scripts with experts including Willy Russell, Andrew Davies and Doctor Who scriptwriter Russell T Davies.

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