Peake practice: who's who in the weirdest castle in literature

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TITUS GROAN

Played by Andrew Robertson

Violet-eyed heir to the castle of Gormenghast, the only source of energy in the decadent Groan dynasty. He dreams of leaving his mouldering household behind: "If he should leave the castle! The very notion of it made him shake with a mixture of fear and excitement. His thought was so revolutionary that he glanced at his mother's back ..."

DR PRUNESQUALLOR

Played by John Sessions

Obsequious royal physician, the man who delivers Titus into the world. The nervous laugh that punctuates his speech has "a good deal of the horse's whinny, with a touch of the curlew." His sister, Irma, is the most unmarriageable spinster in Gormenghast.

MR FLAY

Played by Christopher Lee

Taciturn, nail-chewing servant of the Earl of Gormenghast, whose appearance is heralded by the constant cracking of his knee-joints. Despised by Swelter, the chef, and disdained by Mr Rottcod, curator of the Hall of Bright Carvings. His appearance is like "an inky scarecrow, a mantis of pitch-black cardboard worked with strings".

LADY FUSCHIA

Played by Neve McIntosh

The sullen, slouchy teenage daughter of Gormenghast's royal household. She lives in the attic of the castle, scrawling charcoal drawings on walls, piling toys and books into four heaps, and indulging in misanthropic outbursts, such as: "Oh how I hate! Hate! Hate! How I hate people!"

LORD SEPULCHRAVE

Played by Ian Richardson

Or, to give him his proper title, the Earl of Groan: Lord of Gormenghast and its surrounding territory. He's a melancholic and disappointed ruler; his interest is stirred by only cherubs, library books, and the knob of jade on his silver sceptre.

COUNTESS GERTRUDE

Played by Celia Imrie

The 76th of her line, the Countess is an enormous woman with a predilection for birds: among her companions are a magpie, two starlings, a small owl and a white rook. She is also fond of cacti, and keeps her cats in the castle's Cat Room.

NANNIE SLAGG

Played by June Brown

The grey, red-eyed and aged nurse to Titus and Fuschia. Not the brightest of individuals, she has a wart on her left forearm. Asked whether she likes babies, she replies: "I could eat the little darlings, sir, I could eat them up!"

STEERPIKE

Played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers

A kitchen boy when we first meet him, he grows up into a monster of ambition. "His body shuddered with a kind of lust. It was the lust for an unbridled evil. It was the glory of knowing himself to be pitted, openly, against the big battalions. Alone, loveless, vital, diabolic - a creature for whom compromise was no longer necessary, and intrigue was a dead letter."

SWELTER

Played by Richard Griffiths

The chef at Gormenghast castle. He presides over a team of kitchen apprentices and the Grey Scrubbers - a phalanx of eight deaf men who scour the floors with huge, acromelagous hands. Permanently drunk, "a catalyptic mass of wine-drenched blubber", he delights in the "flowers of flatulence" that his dishes produce.

The cast also includes Stephen Fry, Spike Milligan, Windsor Davies, Martin Clunes, Eric Sykes, Warren Mitchell and Fiona Shaw

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