Charlie Heaton, who plays troubled teen Jonathan Byers in the Netflix sci-fi hit Stranger Things, is set to star in a BBC1 biopic about Joseph Merrick — better known as The Elephant Man.
The British actor will play Merrick, whose physical disability took him from from a working class home in Leicester to fame and notoriety, working in music halls and freak shows before his death in London at the age of 27.
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When is The Elephant Man on TV?
The two-part series was announced in August 2018, but we’re yet to get a confirmed air-date.
What is The Elephant Man about?
Written by Moorside’s Neil McKay and directed by Mum’s Richard Laxton, the drama will span two 90-minute episodes, tracing the life of John Merrick, who was exhibited at freak shows during the 19th century due to his physical deformities, and who has since achieved iconic status in pop culture and on the silver screen following numerous cinematic portrayals.
David Bowie, Mark Hamill (Star Wars) and John Hurt (Alien) have all played Merrick, while more recently Bradley Cooper made his West End debut in the role.
Born into a working-class family in Leicestershire, the series will chart Merrick’s rise from the workhouse and a life of poverty, to a London human oddities show, where he met Dr Frederick Treves, who would go on to become a lifelong friend.
“I’m extremely excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to take on the portrayal of Joseph Merrick in the BBC’s adaption of The Elephant Man,” Heaton said.
Watch the famous “I am not an animal!” scene from the 1980 film The Elephant Man, starring John Hurt as Joseph Merrick and Anthony Hopkins as Dr Frederick Treves
“This is such a special role and a challenge for any actor. Joseph has such an incredible story and I can’t wait to go on this journey and bring him to life.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: “Neil’s scripts, chronicling Joseph’s life in its entirety, will shed new light on this story bringing greater depth and humanity to it than ever before.
“Charlie Heaton promises to be extraordinary in the lead role and we are excited to be telling this powerful, resonant story on BBC1.”
Is there a trailer for The Elephant Man?
Not yet — we’ll keep this page updated with any new developments.