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Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn for Richard Curtis BBC film


Story by Jack Foley

HILARY Swank and Brenda Blethyn have been signed on to appear in a new film for the BBC that has been written by Richard Curtis.

Mary & Martha will tell the story of two mothers who lose their children to malaria and who feel compelled to raise awareness of the disease.

It will be directed by Phillip Noyce, whose credits include Salt, Patriot Games and The Quiet American.

The film will be shown in the run-up to next year’s Red Nose Day, which will raise money for disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa.

Blethyn, whose films include Little Voice and Secrets and Lies and who has recently become a Sunday night TV favourite with Vera, said the story was long overdue.

She also praised the quality of Curtis’s screenplay, which she said marks the Four Weddings and a Funeral writer “at his best”, and was “thrilled” to be working with Noyce and to be sharing the screen with the “classy and totally brilliant” Swank.

Oscar-winner Swank, meanwhile, said: “When he shared with me this extraordinary story and I read Richard’s beautiful script, I was inspired.”

Mary & Martha will be co-produced by Curtis’s company Working Title for BBC One and HBO Films. Shooting will take place in the US and South Africa.

Curtis is a co-founder of the Comic Relief charity, which organises Red Nose Day every other year and has previously written the 2005 BBC film The Girl in the Cafe, which was conceived to tie in with the Make Poverty History campaign.