He’s already featured in an Ian Dury biopic and been described as having “the spirit of Liam Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft and James Dean”, and now British actor Tom Hughes can tick another music icon off his list: John Lennon.
The star of recent BBC2 spy thriller The Game will play Lennon in new Radio 2 drama When Elvis Met The Beatles, which imagines what happened when the Fab Four met the King at Elvis’s Beverly Hills mansion on 27th August 1965.
“It’s said that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, I’m not sure that’s true,” Hughes said. “John Lennon is a hero of mine. I’ll never have the chance to meet him, so playing him is the next best thing. I was delighted to be asked and I just hope that in some way I’ve done this great man justice.”
The Beatles radio drama is part of a series of programmes on Radio 2 that marks the 50th anniversary since the music icons met.
The meeting was secret, with no cameras present to capture it, but playwright Jeff Young says he has created “a kind of fake documentary” that imagines what took place.
Playing the other members of The Beatles are Tom Dunlea as Ringo and Michael Hawkins as George Harrison (both played the same roles in ITV’s Cilla), and Shaun Mason as Paul McCartney. Kevin Mains, who played McCartney in Cilla, is portraying Elvis Presley.
“I was a big Beatles fan when I was younger, but for this project, initially, I knew very little about the Elvis and Beatles meeting,” said writer Young. “Then as I began researching the story, the strangeness of the meeting and the psychological dimensions, the dramatic opportunities became obvious. The larger than life characters involved, including Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, all set against a backdrop of corrupt American politics and the disastrous war in Vietnam, made for a strange and compelling narrative.
“The piece that has emerged is a kind of fake documentary. Elvis’s life was an American Tragedy and the seeds of it are sown here in this meeting between the King and the pretenders to the throne. The Beatles were so young, bewildered and overwhelmed by their rapid rise to fame. In writing this drama I went back my old Beatles records and I became a Beatles fan, all over again.”
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