Hilary Swank to star in Richard Curtis’ ‘Mary & Martha’ drama for BBC One

Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) and Brenda Blethyn (Vera) have been cast in Mary & Martha, a new 90-minute BBC One drama.

Written by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and directed by Phillip Noyce (The Bone Collector), filming began last week and is taking place in America and South Africa.

Mary & Martha stars Swank as Mary and Blethyn as Martha, an American and an English woman who have little in common apart from the one terrible thing – they both lose sons to malaria. Mary takes her young son, George (Lux Hanley Jardine), to Africa, promising adventure and fun when he contracts the disease, while Martha’s son, Ben (Sam Claflin), dies while working as a volunteer in Mozambique. Mary returns to America and begins a one woman campaign to raise awareness of the disease – while Martha herself volunteers at the orphanage where Ben worked.

Both of them find their new lives hard and complicated but finally, together, the two immensely different women join forces, and go on an epic journey to try and make a difference in the world.

Richard Curtis commented: “I’ve always wanted to write a film about the fact that when you have children, there’s always the possibility of extreme joy and extreme sorrow. And over the years working with Comic Relief, I have come across the tragedy of the startling number of lives taken by malaria every year.”

Hilary Swank added: “I’ve long admired Phillip’s work and we’ve been wanting to work together for years. When he shared with me this extraordinary story and I read Richard’s beautiful script, I was inspired by the creative possibilities of working with them and Working Title to tell this remarkable journey of two women from completely different worlds who collided then forged an unbreakable friendship full of humour and grace.”

Mary & Martha will air on BBC One next year in the run up to Red Nose Day.

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