Inspector Morse star Kevin Whately is to appear in a BBC Radio 3 Olympics drama that has been written by Simon Armitage and will be broadcast live.
The cast of the 60-minute play, called The Torchbearers, also includes Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known for playing Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, and Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton.
Armitage’s play, which combines poetry and dialogue, has been written for Radio 3’s Free Thinking festival and focuses on four fictional characters who come into contact with the Olympic torch as it is carried across the UK prior to the games.
According to the broadcaster, the drama “tells the stories of four people whose lies and obsessions come within touching distance of the eternal flame”.
Kate Rowland, who is producing and directing the play for the BBC, told The Stage it “gets under the skin of a group of people running in the north”.
She added: “It’s people questioning their wanting it [the torch] obsessively. The torch connects them. And it’s about how it changes hands accidentally and deliberately and criminally, in a way.”
Rowland explained that Armitage had wanted to “deal with the impact of the Olympics” in terms of “what was happening off stage and what the flame represented and what it illuminated about us”.
She said performing the play live meant that the cast and crew would have to work to “incredible intensity”, and added: “You have to have the right piece [for live drama]. It’s best when it’s written for it, as if you just record a piece of theatre in a theatre space it won’t work.”
The Torchbearers, also starring Phillippa Watson and Chris Connel, will be broadcast live at 9pm on November 4 from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.