Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent to voice Raymond Briggs’ classic, Ethel & Ernest

Full voice cast announced for animated classic

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A star-studded voice cast has been announced, as production begins on Lupus Films’ animated film based on Raymond Briggs‘ classic novel, Ethel & Ernest.

An affectionate tribute to, and based on the lives of Briggs’ parents, the feature film will star Brenda Blethyn (Vera, Little Voice) and Jim Broadbent (Iris, Moulin Rouge) in the title roles: lady’s maid Ethel and milkman Ernest. The award-winning book follows their four decades of marriage from the late 1920s to the early 70s, as they settle in the quiet London suburb of Wimbledon Park and raise a son. During that time they live through tumultuous events in British history, including the Depression, World War II and the dawn of television.

They are joined by Luke Treadaway (Curious Incident Of The Dog in The Night-Time, Fortitude) as Raymond, screen legend Virginia McKenna (Born Free, A Town Like Alice), June Brown (EastEnders), Pam Ferris (Matilda, Call The Midwife), Simon Day (The Fast Show) and Roger Allam (The Thick Of It). The film will also showcase the vocal talents of 11 year-old Harry Collett (The Hive) as young Raymond.

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Speaking in his own inimitable style, Raymond Briggs says: “My mother’s reaction would no doubt have been: ‘Oh, Ernest! We’re going to be on the pictures! We might even be at the Odeon in Wimbledon!’”

Director Roger Mainwood adds: “It’s a real privilege to be directing the feature film of Ethel and Ernest, which many consider to be Raymond Brigg’s masterpiece. Time will tell if the end result does the book justice, but so far Raymond has loved everything he has seen. We are also delighted with the quality of the voice cast. Brenda and Jim are absolutely bang on as the title characters and the other actors bring an enormous amount of charm and character to their roles.”

Jim Broadbent says: “It’s such a beautiful book by a wonderful artist. It’s truly inspiring – a great, honest story of a whole generation. It’s lovely and irresistible.”

Brenda Blethyn adds: “I adore working with Jim Broadbent. We’ve worked together before and it’s great to come back together to play these wonderful characters. They lived through two wars and it’s so, so reminiscent of my own parents’ life in so many ways. Ethel even looks like my mum!”

Luke Treadaway says: “It’s an honour to be asked to play Raymond Briggs. I loved The Snowman and also Fungus The Bogeyman growing up. Raymond has written this love letter to his parents and the whole time of their lives and it just seemed like a beautiful story. I can’t wait to watch it all put together.”

The film is produced by Lupus Films in association with Ethel & Ernest Productions, Melusine Productions and Cloth Cat Animation.

Ethel & Ernest is set for theatrical release in 2016. The BBC will broadcast the film on TV in the UK.