BBC Two has announced the cast for new 90-minute single drama, Best of Men.
Eddie Marsan (Tyrannosaur, War Horse) and Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) star in a piece written by Lucy Gannon (The Children, Soldier Soldier, Bramwell) about the remarkable and uplifting true story of the birth of the Paralympic Games and its visionary creator, talented neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann.
Eddie Marsan plays Dr Guttmann; an inspirational doctor who in 1944, transforms the lives of his patients and staff at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, giving hope and miracles when he transformed its Spinal Injuries Unit. Rejecting the general view that paralysis was a terminal condition, Guttmann threw out the old care regime and brought in a new philosophy – to get all his patients to live full and useful lives. Sport was his big idea and he used it to help build physical strength as well as self-respect.
In 1948 Dr Guttmann hosted the very first Stoke Mandeville Games in the grounds of the Hospital on the same day as the London Oympic opening. In 1952 Holland came to England to participate and by 1960 Guttmann’s vision for an international event became reality when the games were held in Rome alongside the official Olympics.
Rob Brydon plays Sergeant Wynn Bowen; a Welsh soldier with a large personality, whose life is forever changed after he’s paralysed and admitted to Stoke Mandeville under the care of Dr Guttmann.
Writer Lucy Gannon says: “The more I discovered about Dr Ludwig Guttmann, the more intrigued I became. His story is amazing and he really is an unsung hero, the man who revolutionised life for paralysed people.”
The one-off drama also stars; George MacKay (Defiance, Birdsong) who plays William Gardiner; Niamh Cusack (Heartbeat) as Nurse Edwards; Nigel Lindsay (Shrek the Musical) as Mr Gardiner; Ben Owen-Jones (Dalziel & Pascoe) as Neil; David Proud (EastEnders) as Jeremy and Richard McCabe (Wallander) as Dr Cowan.
Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, adds: “Lucy Gannon has written a moving human story that reveals the largely unknown history behind the birth of the Paralympic Games, which is particularly poignant as it will be broadcast on BBC Two in the same year the UK will host the London 2012 Games.”
Best Of Men is directed by Tim Whitby, produced by Harriet Davison from Whitby Davison Productions and executive produced by Matthew Read for the BBC.