Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Shankly search over with casting

Jonathan Watson and Bill Shankly
Jonathan Watson said he was looking forward to the challenge

The search for an actor to fill the boots of legendary Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly has ended.

Scottish actor Jonathan Watson is to play the former boss in the theatre production, The Shankly Show.

The play, commissioned for the Capital of Culture events, celebrates the life and work of the man who managed the club from 1959 to 1974.

Mr Watson, who fronts a sketch show on BBC Radio Scotland, said he was looking forward to the challenge.

The actor, who has also worked in television and film, was chosen after a series of auditions in Glasgow and Liverpool last month.

Shankly was born in the East Ayrshire mining village of Glenbuck.

Mr Watson said: "As a Scot, and a fan of football, I am really looking forward to the challenge of playing the part of Shankly, a man whose influence, character, and determination touched not just a football club, but a city as well."

As soon as Jonathan uttered the first lines it was like an electric shock - you would swear Shankly himself was in the room
Andrew Sherlock, writer

Mr Watson told the BBC he recognised the unique pressure of playing Shankly in the city where he made his name.

"It's a challenge that I am very much looking forward to," he said.

"I am sure everybody has their stories and also other people will do their own takes of Shankly's voice, but I've just got to concentrate on what I am doing and hopefully it will do the trick."

Writer Andrew Sherlock, a lifelong Liverpool fan, said producers were unanimous in their choice.

He said: ''As soon as Jonathan uttered the first lines it was like an electric shock, you would swear Shankly himself was in the room."

The show will receive its gala premiere at the Liverpool Olympia on 24 April.

Shankly joined Liverpool in 1959 and in his years at the club won league titles, FA Cups and their first European trophy.


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Jonathan Watson on being chosen to play Bill Shankly



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01 Mar 08 |  Merseyside

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