Stranger Things star Charlie Heaton will star as Joseph Merrick, better known as The Elephant Man, in BBC One’s new two-part drama.
The 2 x 90 minute series will follow Joseph’s extraordinary journey, including his humble beginnings, workhouses and freak shows, and his friendship with Dr Frederick Treves. According to the synopsis, The Elephant Man will explore “the mysteries that surround Merrick and the man behind the myth.”
Born in 1862, by the age of five Joseph started to develop physical deformities to his skin, face, arms and feet. After the passing of his mother and a deteriorating relationship with his father, Joseph became a resident of the workhouse.
Years later, he found his way into a human oddities show in London, where he was exhibited as ‘The Elephant Man’. Dr Frederick Treves saw Joseph being exhibited, and took him to the London Hospital where he lived until his death in 1890, aged 27.
Speaking about his challenging new role, Charlie said: “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. 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.”
Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, the two-part series will be produced by New Pictures and written by Neil McKay. The series will be directed by Richard Laxton, and executive produced by Elaine Pyke and Charlie Pattinson (New Pictures) and Paul Unwin and Tommy Bulfin (BBC). The series will be filmed in Wales and is expected to broadcast next year.
Piers Wenger 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 BBC One.”
Charlie follows in the footsteps of numerous actors including David Bowie, Mark Hamill, and Bradley Cooper, who have previously depicted Joseph on stage or screen.