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Poliakoff pens BBC royal drama

Jason Deans * The Guardian * 01/03/2002

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Award-winning screenwriter Stephen Poliakoff has written his third successive BBC drama about families and genetic inheritance, this time focusing on the royal family at the beginning of the 20th century.

Following the huge success of his BBC2 dramas Shooting the Past and Perfect Strangers, Poliakoff has teamed up once more with the producer of both - John Chapman - to write The Lost Prince, about the autistic and epileptic Edwardian royal, Prince John.

The project is said to have dazzled the BBC1 controller, Lorraine Heggessey, and a commission is almost certain to follow once the budgets and logistical issues, such as where it will be filmed, have been sorted out.

Mr Chapman said he thought the new work was even better than Poliakoff's other TV dramas, both of which won major broadcasting awards - including the RTS award for best drama, the Broadcasting Press Guild award and the Prix Italia - and were BBC2's flagship dramas when they were aired.

Prince John died as a teenager of an epileptic fit on the first day of the drawing up of the Versailles treaty towards the end of first world war. 

The Lost Prince will examine his life and that of his family. It also concerns itself with the political build-up to the war and the dynastic machinations of European royalty in the early part of the 20th century.

"This is a major story which offers fascinating insight about our royal family, much of which is virtually unknown," Chapman told Stage and TV Today. 

"Stephen has undergone exhaustive research with this piece of work. 

"The drama continues the themes of the previous two in that it examines how much children are influenced by their parents. It is just that Prince John happened to come from a family that ruled the whole of Europe at the time. It is the fall of kings seen through the eyes of a child."

The programme is being planned as a two-parter and the production team hopes to complete casting shortly and begin filming in May. 

The team also wants to release the finished product as a feature film, although Chapman insisted it was still "early days". 

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