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Greenlit: Rattigan by Benedict Cumberbatch, BBC4

Rattigan By Benedict Cumberbatch – To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of playwright Terence Rattigan – whose neglected plays are starting to enjoy a long overdue revival – one of the country’s leading actors, Benedict Cumberbatch, presents a passionate documentary arguing why Rattigan was one of Britain’s greatest playwrights.

After early and spectacular success, Rattigan’s plays such as The Browning Version and The Deep Blue Sea were later seen as safe, conventional and middle class by generations brought up on more modern radical theatre.

In this film, Benedict Cumberbatch uses his own experience of acting in Rattigan roles to argue that, while much of the theatre that supplanted him has now dated badly, Rattigan’s plays remain some of the most brilliantly written, emotionally powerful social satires of the 20th century.

From Harrow, where both playwright and actor were at school, to LA via the West End, Cumberbatch meets the new champions and performers of Rattigan’s work. The film also explores the enigma of Rattigan’s personal life: tormented by his own sexuality, the polite restrained dramas he created confronted the very issues – sexual frustration, failed relationships, adultery and even suicide – that he found so difficult to deal with in his own life.

Channel: BBC4

Producer: BBC Productions Bristol

TX:  Spring / Summer 2011

Source: BBC Press Office

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