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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 16:30 GMT
Walliams to play Frankie Howerd
David Walliams and Frankie Howerd
Walliams (left) says he is a "lifelong fan" of Howerd
Little Britain star David Walliams is to portray one of his comedy heroes, Frankie Howerd, in a BBC Four drama.

Called Rather You Than Me, the biopic has been written in conjunction with Howerd's partner, Dennis Heymer.

It will show how the star, whose camp humour graced shows like Up Pompeii, was tortured by professional doubts and conflicted by his homosexuality.

Walliams, who is currently filming a US version of Little Britain, said the part was a "dream role".

"I have been a lifelong fan of Frankie and his work," he said in a statement.

"In fact, Matt Lucas and I first bonded as struggling comedians over a shared love of Frankie Howerd impressions."

Titter ye not

Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii!
Up Pompeii spawned three feature films
Howerd, who evolved his comic skills as a performer during World War II, became a prominent name in the 1940s thanks to a partnership with Eric Sykes.

His shambolic, stuttering stage persona quickly became a hit with TV audiences, and he was given his own show by the BBC in 1953.

Over the years, he found success with several generations of comedy fans with catchphrases like "not on your nellie", "thrice nay" and "titter ye not".

Perhaps his finest moment was in Up Pompeii, a farcical sitcom based in ancient Rome, where Howerd played a scheming slave called Lurcio, whose dialogue was laced with double entendres.

In later years, the comedian became a favourite with students, and was a regular on Nicky Campbell's late-night Radio One show.

However, he kept his homosexuality, and his relationship with Heymer, secret until his death in 1992.

BBC Four's drama was written by Peter Harness after conducting a series of intimate interviews with Heymer.

The show is part of a four-part season which will also explore the lives of Hughie Green, Tony Hancock and the two actors who played Steptoe and Son: Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell.

The season comes after the award-winning success of Fantabulosa, which dramatised the life of Carry On comedian Kenneth Williams.

SEE ALSO
Frankie Howerd's forbidden love
23 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
Comedian's home opens to public
14 Apr 06 |  Somerset
Howerd memorabilia auctioned off
13 Dec 05 |  Bristol/Somerset
Howerd's OBE raffled for charity
06 Apr 05 |  Somerset

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