Sheridan Smith and James Purefoy to star in Radio 4’s British New Wave season

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Sheridan Smith, James Purefoy, Emily Watson and Samuel Barnett are to appear in a major season of BBC dramas celebrating novels that became iconic films in the 1960s.

The British New Wave season on BBC Radio 4 pays tribute to writers including Nell Dunn, David Storey and John Osborne, who are described by the BBC as “angry young men and modern women who were giving a voice to the working classes and rebelling against the established order”.

Smith, Purefoy and Watson will star in This Sporting Life, an adaptation of Storey’s book by Andrew Lynch which is being directed by Johnny Vegas.

It will also star John Thomson and Julia Davis and will be broadcast on August 31.

The season will also include Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, a dramatisation of Alan Sillitoe’s book, which will star Joe Dempsie, Shirley Anne Field, Natalie Grady and Sarah Smart. This will be broadcast in two parts on September 1 and 8.

It will be followed by Georgy Girl, an adaptation of Margaret Forster’s book by Rhiannon Tise, which will be broadcast in five parts across the week from September 2 to 6.

The cast includes Lucy Speed, Paul Ready, Stephen Critchlow and Ella Smith.

As part of the season, BBC Radio 4 has also commissioned a brand new drama written by Stephen Wakelam, which is called John Osborne – The Author of Himself. It charts the first meeting between Osborne and theatre manager George Devine, and stars Barnett as Osborne.

It will be aired on September 2, the day before an adaptation of Dunn’s Up the Junction is broadcast. As previously reported, this drama will star Lacey Turner.

Jeremy Howe, drama commissioner at Radio 4, said: “In the late fifties and early sixties something extraordinary happened in theatre, film and writing – a different creative energy with vibrant unheard voices swept the old guard away.”