Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 14:18 UK

Nesbitt to play Troubles victim


Actor James Nesbitt is to star in a new drama about the Northern Ireland Troubles. Maggie Taggart reports.

James Nesbitt is to star in a new drama about the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Five Minutes of Heaven is about a 1975 murder, as told through the eyes of the 17-year-old gunman and the victim's brother, 11, who witnessed the killing.

Nesbitt will play the grown-up brother in the present day, as the murderer and victim continue to deal with the emotional fall-out of the Troubles.

It will be directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who was behind Oscar-nominated Hitler movie Downfall.

It is thought Liam Neeson may also sign up to star in the drama, which will be broadcast on BBC Two.

Scriptwriter Guy Hibbert, who also worked on the film Omagh about the 1998 bombing, said the first part of the movie was "an accurate, dramatised reconstruction of the events leading to the murder in 1975".

"The action of the remainder of the film, set in present day, is fiction but based on their emotional response to the fictional situations their characters have been placed in, following close liaison with both men," he said.

Real events

The first part is based on real events. Alistair Little, 17, a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, murdered 19-year-old Catholic Jim Griffin in Lurgan.

Little and three others were arrested two weeks later and was later convicted, serving 12 and half years in prison.

Jim's murder was witnessed by his 11-year-old brother, Joe Griffin, and the impact of Jim's death destroyed his family, who couldn't come to terms with the loss.

The second part of the film follows a fictional journey of both men in later life.

The scriptwriter added: "Working separately with both Alistair and Joe on the fictional areas provided a unique way of telling this story, and revealed there were no easy answers."

Filming is expected to begin later this month.

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