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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 16:02 GMT
Owen scores drama first
Michael Owen
Michael Owen embarks on his acting debut for Children's BBC
England and Liverpool striker Michael Owen is swapping goal-scoring glory for acting fame as the hero of a children's drama for BBC One.

The 20-year-old stars in the new series Hero to Zero alongside 10-year-old Huw Procter, in the role of Charlie Brice.

Owen plays himself in the show but takes on magical qualities to come alive from a bedroom poster to offer advice to troubled, budding footballer Charlie.
Huw Procter
Charlie gets some surprise support from a poster of his hero
Owen, who has been out of the game due to injury, filmed his scenes on location in London and Wrexham last August.

Talking about his career sideline, he was full of praise for his young co-star - with whom he is now confirmed "mates" .

"I did most of my scenes with Huw Procter. He was a much better actor than me and I think he was good footballer too," he told The Times.

"At the beginning Huw was a bit nervous and it took us a couple of hours to relax and get our lines right, but I was just as nervous as him because I had never done anything like this in my life before either."

Hero and mentor

Hero to Zero sees Owen helping Charlie through a particularly trying time.
Hero to Zero
Rowing parents cause Charlie particular grief
His parents have separated and always seem to be arguing, he's in trouble at school and cannot understand why his dad is not excited by his footballing prospects.

All that suddenly changes however when Owen - Charlie's hero and mentor - steps out of the poster on his wall and into his life.

Procter - an acting novice - said it was a dream come true just to get the part. When he found out who his famous co-actor was he could hardly believe it.

"We were doing a scene where I was sitting in my bed, when someone walked up the stairs and said 'Hi' and it was him," he recalls.

The two were soon getting along like old friends.

"Michael asked me all about football and acting and he mimicked me a bit - in a fun way - because I kept saying 'wicked'," he laughs.

Obvious choice

Before Hero to Zero, he had only been in a school play. But making Hero to Zero with Owen was, he says, an experience he will never forget.
Michael Owen
Michael Owen gives Charlie support on and off the pitch
"At the end of Michael's filming, he came over and said thanks for being a great actor and gave me his football boots."

Series writer John Salthouse, a former footballer himself, says Owen - the youngest player to score in a full international - was the obvious choice for the series.

"When I asked children which sportsmen they'd most like to meet, every hand went up in the class: 'Michael Owen'."

The part was played by Owen's own footballing hero Gary Lineker in the original radio production.
Procter, Fraser and Selby
Huw Procter and co-stars Liz Fraser and Tony Selby
Hero to Zero also features former Carry On actress Liz Fraser, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels actor Alan Ford and Cliff Parisi, from Kavangh QC.

But Michael Owen's acting future is on ice. After his lay-off because of hamstring problems, his manager Gerard Houllier plans to put him firmly back onto the soccer stage - starting with Liverpool's match against Manchester United on 4 March.

Hero to Zero begins on Wednesday 23 February at 1645GMT on BBC One.

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 ON THIS STORY
Series writer John Salthouse
"Gary Lineker played Michael's part then"
See also:

02 Feb 00 | News
Owen injury could help England
01 Feb 00 | Football
Owen out until March
28 Dec 99 | FA Carling Premiership
Liverpool made to wait
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