A gothic masterpiece comes breathtakingly to life in a lavish four-hour
adaptation of GORMENGHAST, airing on PBS Wednesday and Thursday, June 27 and
28, 2001, 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). Based on Mervyn Peake's
Gormenghast trilogy, the program presents an epic fantasy in the tradition
of Dune and The Lord of the Rings.
Five years in the making, GORMENGHAST is one of the most ambitious
undertakings in British television history. Enhancing the sense of magic and
majesty are 120 elaborate sets and a magnificent array of costumes,
recreating the richly imagined world of a book familiar to three generations
Set in the sprawling tumbledown castle of Gormenghast, the story features a
menagerie of weird and colorful characters that plot, seduce, murder, go mad
and otherwise cope in an ageless and increasingly corrupt society.
Ian Richardson (House of Cards trilogy) stars as Lord Groan, head of the
ancient family of Groan and 76th Earl of Gormenghast. A bibliomaniac, he
turns into a simple maniac when his books go up in flames thanks to a
nefarious arson plot designed to unhinge his mind.
Horror movie legend Christopher Lee (The Curse of Frankenstein, soon to be
seen in The Lord of the Rings) plays Flay, Groan's cadaverous manservant.
Exiled for mistreating one of the palace cats, he remains faithful to the
dynasty in his search to discover the evil genius who is destroying it.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Titus, Velvet Goldmine) plays the arch villain
Steerpike, who rises from kitchen boy to Master of the Ritual as he plots to
topple the House of Groan and take over.
The cast of GORMENGHAST also includes Celia Imrie (Star Wars, Hilary and
Jackie) as Gertrude, Countess of Groan, a bird- and cat-fancier who
instructs her newborn son's nanny, "Bring him back when he's six"; Neve
McIntosh (Lady Audley's Secret) as Fuchsia, Gormenghast's spoiled princess
and Steerpike's doting pawn; John Sessions as Prunesquallor, the bizarre
surgeon-in-chief who has more on the ball than it appears; Richard Griffiths
(Hope and Glory; the upcoming Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) as
Swelter, the homicidal head of the palace kitchens; Zoe Wanamaker (David
Copperfield) and Lynsey Baxter as demented twin aunts, Clarice and Cora,
whose fixation on the trappings of power leads them into a ruinous alliance
with Steerpike, and Stephen Fry (Jeeves and Wooster) as the narcoleptic
Mervyn Peake concocted the fantasy world of Gormenghast during his British
Army service in World War II. At first, he had difficulty finding a
publisher, but with the appearance of Titus Groan in 1946, he developed a
cult following that eventually encompassed teenagers as well as literary
critics. Peake died in 1968 at age 57.
"The Gormenghast trilogy is about Titus Groan and his ascent toward
manhood," wrote Robert Ostermann in the National Observer. "But to speak of
these novels as being 'about' anything is as inadequate as saying The
Odyssey is about a man trying to get home to his wife. Such fiction is first
and foremost about itself ... and it imposes itself with obsessive force on
Day & time: check with your local station