Pride - Press Archive - The Guardian
19 April 2003
Winslet canvassed for lion's role by BBC
Matt Wells, media correspondent
Kate Winslet is being lined up to voice the leading role in a series about a
pride of lions which will combine natural history film with computer-generated
The BBC is in talks with the star of Titanic to play Suki, a "young, rebellious"
lion in a film being portrayed as a technological breakthrough for television
Helen Mirren and Sean Bean have already been signed up to voice leading
characters in Pride, which is being made by combining specially commissioned
footage of real lions with computer animation to "humanise" the characters.
The series is being scripted by Simon Nye, who wrote Men Behaving Badly.
The natural history footage is by John Downer, who was behind the acclaimed
documentary Lions: Spy in the Den. It will show how the lions cope when they
come into conflict with another pride.
Mirren will play Suki's mother Macheeba, the matriarch of the pride. Bean will
be the voice of Dark, Suki's "dangerous yet magnetic suitor".
Nye, who has also dramatised The Railway Children and Pollyanna, said the
film would be a "fusion of comedy, drama and natural history".
Downer said the film builds on practices used by Hollywood animations: "This
genre is a completely new thing for television, in the manner of Babe, using
real animals and animation techniques.
"The main story focuses on a pride of lions, fantastic, unique animals, who
live in human-type set-ups. They defend each other and form allegiances. It's
more biologically accurate than The Lion King, and the starting point is natural
Filming for Pride, a co-production between the BBC and America's A&E Networks,
has already taken place in the African savannah, with producers seeking footage
that corresponds to a storyboard drawn up by Nye.
It is produced by Christopher Hall, who was also behind previous BBC epics
Hound of the Baskervilles and The Lost World.
The animation is being provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which made
Jane Tranter, controller of drama commissioning at the BBC, said: "Pride, like
The Canterbury Tales, is part of a growing slate of original, ambitious pieces
for BBC1 that work alongside our new and established popular dramas. It
fuses the BBC's core strengths with our desire to extend drama into new
Like The Canterbury Tales, also in production for the BBC, Pride is intended
as a high-profile, one-off drama which will give the corporation kudos in the
run-up to the renewal of its royal charter.
It is hoped Pride will be ready for broadcast by Christmas or Easter 2004.
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