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Hamm, Radcliffe lead Sky revolution

Sky Arts has signed Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe to star in a new four-part drama based on the memoirs of a doctor working during the Russian Revolution.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook (4×30′) is based on a collection of short stories by Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, which tell the story of a young doctor working in the small village of Muryovo at the start of the revolution in 1917.

Hamm will play an older version of the doctor, who will have darkly comic exchanges with his younger self, played by Radcliffe.

Big Talk Productions will produce the miniseries in association with Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt’s Point West Pictures.

Mark Chappell, Shaun Pye, Alan Connor will adapt Bulgakov’s memoirs. Alex Hardcastle will direct, with Clelia Mountford producing. Hamm will exec produce alongside Kenton Allen for Big Talk Productions and Saskia Schuster for Sky.

Mad Men star Hamm said: “Clelia Mountford and Big Talk have been championing this project unabashedly and I share their great enthusiasm for bringing something original, dark, funny and moving to light.”

Radcliffe, best known as Harry Potter in the film series, added: “I have been an obsessive Bulgakov reader for a couple of years now so when the opportunity to become involved in this project came up, I could barely contain my excitement. The book is funny, grotesque and heartfelt in equal measure and I look forward to working with a great group of people to help bring it to life.”

Sky Arts previously tackled Russian comedy in 2010 when a cast including Steve Coogan, Johnny Vegas, Julia Davis, Sheridan Smith and Mackenzie Crook starred in a series of Chekhov Comedy Shorts.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook will air on Sky Arts as part of the network’s Playhouse Presents strand in 2013. BBC Worldwide has international distribution rights.

Playhouse Presents this year saw actors such as Emma Thompson, Alison Steadman, David Tennant and Sir Tom Jones – in his first screen role – star in a series of one-off plays.

One of those, comedy-drama Nixon’s The One, in which Harry Shearer takes on the role of the former US president, has since been ordered as a five-part series. It will be filmed in September by Hat Trick Productions and broadcast in 2013.

Sky Arts has also commissioned a new single comedy, Psychobitches (1×30′), in which a cast including Rebecca Front and Catherine Tate puts some of history’s most famous women into the psychiatrist’s chair.

Beatrix Potter, Judy Garland and Eva Braun will be among those visiting a therapist in the Tiger Aspect production, which will complete this year’s Playhouse Presents strand on June 21.

Nixon’s The One and Psychobitches, coupled with A Young Doctor’s Notebook, are part of Sky’s commitment to increase investment in original programming to £600m (US$947m) by 2014.


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