Raymond Briggs’ classic graphic novel Ethel and Ernest is being adapted for Christmas on the BBC this year, and a host of top British talent has been lined up to bring the characters to life.
Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn star in the animated film, telling the story of lady’s maid Ethel and milkman Ernest over four decades as they live through tumultuous events including the depression, World War II and the arrival of television.
Here’s everything you need to know about the stars ahead of the film’s screening on the BBC this Christmas.
Jim Broadbent – Ernest
Who is Ernest?
Ernest Briggs is a milkman and an ardent socialist, with a keen interest in technology. He stars courting – and then marries – Ethel in the late 1920s.
Where have I seen Jim Broadbent before?
Where haven’t you seen him? Broadbent picked up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in 2001’s Iris, and a Bafta for his role in Moulin Rouge in 2001. His other well-known roles include Horace Slughorn in the Harry Potter films, and on TV he won a Royal Television Society award for his role in Any Human Heart.
Brenda Blethyn – Ethel
Who is Ethel?
Five years her husband’s senior, Ethel has middle class aspirations and firm ideas about proper English behaviour – but despite her conservative leanings, she loves her husband dearl. She works as a ladies’ maid but becomes a housewife after the birth of her son Raymond.
Where have I seen Brenda Blethyn before?
She’s best known for starring in detective drama Vera, and has also received Oscar nominations for her roles in the films Secrets & Lies and Little Voice.
Luke Treadaway – Raymond
Who is Raymond?
Author Briggs wrote himself into the story, appearing first as a child and later as a young man. Treadaway will be voicing the older version of the character.
Where have I seen Luke Treadaway before?
Not to be confused with twin brother Harry, Treadaway has appeared in Nordic TV thriller Fortitude and also won a Laurence Olivier Best Leading Actor award after starring in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at The National Theatre. Recently, he starred in the recent film adaptation of the bestselling book, A Street Cat Named Bob, and played snooker player Alex Higgins in BBC iPlayer’s The Rack Pack.
Who else is in the cast?
June Brown The one and only Dot Cotton in Eastenders, Brown appears in Ethel and Ernest as Ernest’s step mother.
Virginia McKenna Screen legend McKenna is perhaps best known for her roles in 1966’s Born Free and the 70s musical The King and I. She plays the Lady of the House.
Pam Ferris Ferris plays Mrs Bennett and Aunt Betty. Her previous roles include Miss Trunchbull in Matilda and Sister Evangelina in Call the Midwife, a role she finally left earlier this year.
Simon Day Best known for appearing on classic BBC sketch show The Fast Show, Simon Day voices Alf.
Roger Allam As well as an extensive theatre career, Allam played Tom Sloane in The Thick of It, featured in the ITV Morse prequels Endeavour and was part of series two of The Missing. In Ethel and Ernest he plays the doctor.