BBC makes instant drama about Hamilton libel trial

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THE HIGH Court libel trial involving Neil Hamilton and Mohamed Al Fayed is shortly to be repeated in your living room. BBC2 is to show a dramatisation of the court case next month.

Jane Root, the controller of BBC2, has commissioned the arts documentaries director David Kerr and the producer Richard Fell to turn the court transcripts into a drama - which should not be too difficult. It will be shown as a single programme on one night in January. Ms Root described it as a "fast response dramatisation".

No actors have yet been chosen to play the leading roles; but there was already speculation within the BBC yesterday as to who might be selected for the plum roles of Mr Hamilton, Mrs Hamilton and Mr Fayed.

Two actors likely to be approached for the role of Mr Fayed are Om Puri, who played the father in the recent film East is East, and Nadim Sawalha, who has appeared in EastEnders, and whose daughter, Julia Sawalha, played straight daughter Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous.

Although there is little connection in real life between Christine Hamilton and Margaret Thatcher, two actresses who have played the former prime minister - Sylvia Sims and Maggie Steed - might also fit the bill for Mrs Hamilton.

The House of Cards star Ian Richardson could be among those to be asked to play Neil Hamilton, though the short notice means that few big-name actors are likely to be available.

There is one other option, of course. Mr and Mrs Hamilton have made it clear that they will be looking for alternative careers to boost their ailing bank balance. Acting - particularly playing themselves - could appeal.

Indeed, the egos of the entire original cast are such that they might all be persuaded to do an encore for the cameras.