Mirren and Lumley to read girls' tales

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Dame Helen Mirren and Joanna Lumley are to summon up the "jolly hockey sticks" era for BBC Radio 4 with a season of classic girls' school tales. The stories include Enid Blyton's The Cheat and will be broadcast over three days next month.

The announcement comes after the BBC Trust told Radio 4 to appeal to listeners beyond a "middle-class" audience.

Ms Lumley defended the decision to revive Blyton, whose books fell out of fashion and were removed from some libraries in the 1980s. The actress said: "Blyton had a very clear sense of right and wrong, and this short story is rather wonderful in the way the dilemma of being a cheat is resolved. I was at boarding school and I recognise the quietness of a dormitory when all the other girls are asleep."

Dame Helen will voice A Midnight Revel by Angela Brazil, dating back to 1925. Lisa Dillon, the Cranford actress, will also appear in the Good Show Clarissa series, reading Hilda Richards' 1939 tale Jemima Gets Them Guessing.