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Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 18:47 GMT
Gormenghast leads BBC Two winter
Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Steerpike in Gormenghast


EastEnders star June Brown - Dot Cotton in the hit soap - joins horror specialist Christopher Lee for the highlight of BBC Two's winter line-up, a multi-million pound version of the fantasy novel Gormenghast.

Brown and Lee join Warren Mitchell, best known as bigot Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part, in the adaptation of Mervyn Peake's novel.

Gormenghast is the tale of the ancient Groan family, who have been incarcerated in a huge, crumbling castle for centuries.

Kitchen boy Steepike - played by Velvet Goldmine star Jonathan Rhys Meyers - is determined to take control of the castle, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.

Local heroes: The League of Gentlemen return
BBC Two controller Jane Root said: "It is a stunning dramatisation of one of the 20th century's most extraordinary tales.

"Weird, wild, and truly grand in scale, ingenious fantasy marries all action comedy in one of the biggest projects we have ever undertaken.

"It is ambitious in every sense - aspiring, inspired, challenging, and beautiful."

Other BBC Two highlights include the return of Delia Smith with How To Cook 2, and a second series of the cult comedy The League Of Gentlemen.

Former ICI chairman Sir John Harvey Jones - who advised companies on their future in BBC Two's Troubleshooter a decade ago, returns to the channel to see how they got on in Back To Business.

Business brain: Sir John Harvey Jones is back to troubleshoot
Tony Blair is also one of the stars of the winter season - the prime minister is profiled in Blair's 1,000 days.

In drama, Primary Colors star Adrian Lester features in Storm Damage, which chronicles the urban underclass following a youngster from a south London children's home.

Meanwhile, Paul McGann stars in Nature Boy, which sees him undertake a mission around the UK to find his estranged father.

Fantasy Rooms host Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has a new series with gardening expert Diarmuid Gavin called Home Front: Inside Out, which sees the duo transforming the inside and outside of homes.

A new ArtZone strand will bring together programmes on the arts. National Gallery director Neil MacGregor fronts a documentary which traces the artistic traditions of Christianity in Europe and South America.

The season also features the French film, Picasso Days, which looks at the life of the painter, while Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Kendall star in How Proust Can Change Your Life.

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See also:
10 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Ali G leads Channel 4's winter
23 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
ITV's festive Frost
24 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
BBC goes retro for winter
02 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
BBC's all-star millennium bash
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