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Cast announced for Dylan Thomas drama, A Poet In New York


Rev star Tom Hollander has been cast as Welsh Poet, Dylan Thomas in Andrew Davies’ (South Riding, Little Dorrit) brand new single drama, A Poet In New York, for BBC Two and BBC One Wales.

Essie Davis (The Slap, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) will also star as Dylan’s wife Caitlin.

The drama marks the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth, and will explore how Dylan’s past made his present virtually untenable and the part that he played in his own demise, resulting in his death in a smog-ridden New York on a November day in 1953, aged 39.

Set in New York and Laugharne, the story begins when Dylan (Hollander) arrives in the city on his fourth and fatal visit to rehearse, write and party. One of the most famous poets in the world by the early 1950s, Dylan’s popular and electrifying tours had also made him a much-loved celebrity in America.

He was on his way to Hollywood to write an opera with Stravinsky. But, before he headed west, he had to earn enough to fund the trip by fulfilling a commitment to take part in a production of the recently completed Under Milk Wood at the prestigious Poetry Centre in Manhattan. What might have been a triumphant new departure in his career and life turned instead into a requiem for a man whose life had spiralled out of control.

The cast for A Poet In New York also includes Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting, Page Eight) and Phoebe Fox (Switch, New Tricks) and will be directed by Aisling Walsh (Room At The Top, Loving Miss Hatto).

Tom Hollander says: “I am thrilled to be playing Dylan Thomas for Aisling Walsh in Andrew Davies’ wonderful A Poet In New York, produced by Modern Television. Thomas was a great poet, whose blazing life and premature death left both a considerable poetic legacy and an enduring reputation for bad behaviour. He was also quite fat. Playing him is both a wonderful acting challenge and a great opportunity to eat things that I would normally have to avoid.”

Essie Davis says: “I am very excited to be part of this production and working with this terrific team on A Poet In New York. I played Polly Garter in Under Milk Wood in high school and have loved Dylan Thomas since that first meeting. Caitlin has an interesting story to tell and it is thrilling to be part of a project celebrating the centenary of his birth.”

Writer Andrew Davies says: “I’m delighted that we’ve secured Tom Hollander to play Dylan. He’s a wonderful actor, with a striking resemblance to the poet, he’s captured the wonderful voice, and he has, more than any other actor I can think of, that outrageous charm that drew so many people to Dylan.”

A Poet In New York is produced by Ruth Caleb. The executive producers are Griff Rhys Jones and Rob Warr for Modern Television and Faith Penhale and Bethan Jones for BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Two.

A Poet In New York has begun filming in Cardiff and Laugharne and will transmit on BBC One Wales and BBC Two next year.