Belfast Telegraph

Zoo drama role for Halifax's Reid

Anne Reid is to star in a new BBC One drama about the real-life family story behind groundbreaking Chester Zoo.

The series - called Our Zoo - will look at the eccentric figures behind the wildlife park which was established by George Mottershead in the 1930s and was the first in Britain without bars.

Last Tango In Halifax star Anne, 78, has been cast as Lucy Mottershead, the mother of ex-serviceman George, to be played by Lee Ingleby, who is best known to TV viewers for portraying DS John Bacchus in Inspector George Gently.

George had been determined to establish a zoo without bars after visiting Belle Vue near Manchester as a youngster and, after overcoming local opposition, he and his family opened their venture in 1931 in the grounds around a Victorian mansion, Oakfield Manor.

Lucy's world was turned upside down when her husband Albert - being played by Peter Wight - decided to sell their shop in order to fund their son's dreams.

Their sacrifice meant they had to move in with George and his wife Lizzie (Liz White, who has starred in TV's Life On Mars and the film The Woman In Black), together with their children, Mew and June.

The series will also feature Ralf Little, who takes the role of Lizzie's mischievous brother Billy Atkinson, and Sophia Myles, who portrays a mysterious aristocrat who lives nearby, Lady Katherine.

Our Zoo, made by independent production company Big Talk, has begun filming and will be broadcast later this year.

The series has been written by playwright Matt Charman, who has been a writer in residence at the National Theatre. It has been given the support of George's daughter, June Williams, as well as Chester Zoo, which remains a popular attraction.

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