Anthony Hopkins will play King Lear as the BBC announces a batch of exciting new drama

Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett will bring his play King Charles III to BBC2, and Zadie Smith's novel NW will be adapted for the same channel

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Anthony Hopkins will star as King Lear in a BBC2 adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, the BBC has revealed. The film, which comes from the creators of 2015 drama The Dresser, is part of a new raft of drama coming to the channel.

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Also announced for BBC2 is Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, a 90-minute adaptation of his Olivier Award-winning play. Written in blank verse, the gripping drama sees Prince Charles ascend to the throne following the Queen’s death. But when he refuses to sign a controversial bill into law, he’s left battling a political crisis.

But it’s not all regal drama for the channel, with Zadie Smith’s very modern London-set novel NW being adapted by Lark Rise to Candleford writer Rachel Bennette. Smith’s unusual novel tells the story of Natalie and Leah, friends who grew up together in North West London but now live drastically different lives. 

Smith said she was “thrilled that the BBC is picking up NW. These are characters of the page for me and I’m very curious and excited to see them walking and talking in a fully realised world.”

Over on BBC1, the death of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor in 2000 is being told in new drama Our Loved Boy. Written by award winning screenwriter and playwright Levi David Addai, the 90 minute drama will tell the powerful, heart-wrenching story from the perspective of Damilola’s father, Richard Taylor.

And alongside the hard-hitting drama there’ll be a funny six-part series called Wanderlust, a sitcom about relationships and monogamy — or lack of it — in a multi-generational family. This will be the first TV series from award-winning playwright Nick Payne, who wrote Constellations and If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet.

At an event hosted by BBC Director-General Tony Hall, BBC controller Charlotte Moore said; “We are going to continue to challenge what popular mainstream television is on BBC One. We’re going to support authorship, a diversity of voice and opinion, innovation in form and an unprecedented commitment to factual on BBC Two…the licence fee gives us the creative freedom to work with you in ways that no-one else can. I want to make the most of that. From now on, we’re going to be the most distinctive we have ever been.”