Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Mowlam life turned into TV drama

Mo Mowlam at the Maze
Mo Mowlam took a political risk by meeting loyalists in the Maze

The life of the former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam is being made into a television drama.

Julie Walters is to play Ms Mowlam, one of the most popular Labour politicians of recent times, in the C4 programme.

The broadcaster said 'Mo' would explore the Redcar MP's rise to prominence in Tony Blair's Labour government.

It said her "famously unorthodox, straight operating style" helped bring the Good Friday peace agreement to fruition in 1998.

Julie Walters is to play Mo Mowlam
Julie Walters is to play Mo Mowlam

Writers interviewed former first minster David Trimble and current Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as well as friends and family of Ms Mowlam, who died in 2005.

Head of Channel 4 Drama Liza Marshall said the story would be a "moving personal portrait".

"The story of Mo Mowlam is a moving and pertinent one to tell and I cannot think of an actress who could more powerfully capture her energy, wit and ultimately the tragedy of her situation than Julie Walters," she said.

While at the Northern Ireland Office, Ms Mowlam took a major political risk by going inside the Maze prison to talk to prisoners in a bid to restart the peace process.

In 1999, she was replaced as Northern Ireland secretary by Peter Mandelson, and became Tony Blair's cabinet "enforcer" after turning down the job of health secretary. She stood down as an MP in 2001.

The drama will be directed by Emmy award-winning director Philip Martin and written by Neil McKay.

The drama will film in early summer and will be broadcast on Channel 4 in early 2010.

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