George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to get first time radio adaptation


George Orwell's classic Nineteen Eighty-Four is to be dramatised by BBC radio for the first time - almost 70 years after the writer worked at the corporation's Broadcasting House, which partly inspired his tale.

The author, who is to be celebrated in a season of programmes on Radio 4, based the book's torture area, Room 101, on a meeting room in the building that he remembered from his time at the BBC.

The adaptation of his dystopian novel will star Christopher Eccleston as the central character Winston Smith and will be broadcast in two parts next month.

Nineteen Eighty-Four - published in 1949 - has been brought to life on numerous occasions, including a celebrated movie starring John Hurt, released the year it was actually set. It has also been a BBC TV series in 1954 and two years later a British movie starring Edmond O'Brien and Michael Redgrave.

Yet despite its status as the home of radio drama, Radio 4 has not adapted it until now, although it was parodied in a sitcom, Nineteen Ninety-Four.

Orwell - the pen name of Eric Blair, who died 63 years ago yesterday - worked at the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London during the 1940s and recalled it being "a cross between a girls' school and a lunatic asylum".

The new dramatisation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which also stars Pippa Nixon and Tim Piggott-Smith, will begin on February 10.

It is part of a season of programmes, called The Real George Orwell, devoted to the writer and his work. They include a dramatisation of Animal Farm, featuring Tamsin Greig and Toby Jones, and adaptations of Homage To Catalonia, Burma and Down And Out In Paris And London.