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Downton patriarch Hugh Bonneville goes from riches to rags as a tramp in Mr Stink


Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville is going from riches to rags after landing a new role in a TV drama - as a tramp.

He is taking the title role in Mr Stink, adapted from the hit children's novel by comic David Walliams, which is being brought to life for BBC1.

Bonneville, known to viewers for his role as the Earl of Grantham, will swap his country pile for a garden shed in the family comedy which begins filming next month.

Walliams will also make an appearance playing the Prime Minister after notably playing a fawning aide to the PM in his hit comedy Little Britain.

In the story, lonely 12-year-old Chloe befriends local tramp Mr Stink and invites him to hide out at the end of her family's garden.

The book by Walliams, who has worked with Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye to adapt the tale, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Bonneville, 48 said: "I'm delighted to be adding my own whiff to the odour that emanates from David Walliams, and his very funny, touching and thought-provoking story."

Walliams, whose production company is working on the hour-long drama, said: "I am thrilled that Hugh is playing Mr Stink. He is one of the most popular and talented actors around, and is the perfect person to bring out the character's humour and sadness."

Also in the cast is comic actor Harish Patel, whose past appearances include Run Fat Boy Run and Coronation Street, playing Chloe's pal Raj, the newsagent.

Executive producer Mark Freeland, the BBC's head of in-house comedy, said: "I fell in love with David's book when I read it to my kids. I fell in love with David 15 years ago."

The show is expected to be screened around Christmas.

Mr Stink was Walliams's second children's book and was shortlisted for a Blue Peter award for the best book of the past decade, but lost out to Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.