Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 12:43 UK

Bleasdale to write new BBC drama

Alan Bleasdale
Bleasdale's last project for the BBC was The Monocled Mutineer in 1986

Acclaimed British writer Alan Bleasdale is to pen a new drama series for the BBC - his first in more than 20 years.

The Boys From The Blackstuff dramatist will write Laconia, the story of the sinking of a British ship by a German U-boat during World War II.

The two-part drama will tell the human side of the Laconia Incident, which changed the course of maritime warfare.

Filming will begin in Autumn 2008 in Germany and Malta, and will be broadcast on BBC Two in 2009.

"This is an astonishing tale of bravery, humanity, warmth and near madness in the face of facism and the cruelty of war," Bleasdale said.

"There have been nightmares along the way, but every writer must dream of being given a story such as this."


BBC2 Controller Roly Keating said: "Alan Bleasdale has written some of the classic pieces of TV drama, including Boys From The Blackstuff on BBC2, so it is fantastic to be able to bring his hugely ambitious new work to the channel."

Bleasdale's last project for the BBC was the World War I drama The Monocled Mutineer in 1986.

Armed British vessel RMS Laconia was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat on 12 September 1942.

When Lt Commander Werner Hartenstein discovered the ship was carrying civilians and Italian prisoners-of-war, as well as British Army soldiers, he attempted to shepherd 200 survivors to safety against the orders of the Nazi high command.

The survivors were crammed on the top of his surface level submarine with Red Cross flags draped over its gun decks to appeal for rescue.

But a US bomber assumed it was a trick and attacked the U-boat, killing many of the Laconia survivors.

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