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The BBC on Wednesday made it official, confirming that it has ordered a 90-minute drama about the controversy surrounding computer game Grand Theft Auto, which will star Daniel Radcliffe and Bill Paxton.
As THR recently reported, Paxton had been in talks to join the Harry Potter star in the project.
The one-off for BBC Two with the working title Game Changer will focus on what the U.K. public broadcaster called “arguably the greatest British coding success story since Bletchley Park,” a reference to the site of the British Government Code and Cypher School featured in The Imitation Game.
Grand Theft Auto allows players to step into a fantasy world where they can behave like criminals, gun down rivals and cops, hijack cars and venture into an imaginary underworld.
In the fall of 2013, the video game’s latest iteration, GTA:V, earned $1 billion in its first three days, becoming the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, the BBC said in a description of the drama. “Its triumph was down to a bunch of British gaming geniuses who had known each other since their school days, and at the heart of it all was GTA’s creative mastermind, Sam Houser,” it added.
“But the violent gameplay coupled with its outstanding commercial success leads to fierce opposition: from parents worried about children immersing themselves in such a violent world; from politicians, alarmed at the values they say it encourages; and above all from moral campaigners, who fight passionately to ban it,” according to a project description. “At the vanguard of this crusade is the formidable campaigning lawyer Jack Thompson, a man determined to do whatever he can to stop the relentless rise of Grand Theft Auto.”
Radcliffe will play Houser, with Paxton portraying Thompson. The film is a BBC in-house production.
The U.K. public broadcaster formally unveiled the project as part of a broader announcement on latest commissions for BBC Two.
They also include Simply Nigella, the latest BBC cooking show with Nigella Lawson. It will “introduce viewers to a new pared-down approach to cooking and eating,” the BBC said. “With a handful of dishes per show, Nigella will talk about what the recipes mean to her as well as give tips to find the easiest way to cook them.” Said Lawson: “It’s about food that makes our life easier, that makes us feel better, more alive and less stressed.
BBC Two has also ordered a show in the tradition of hit The Great British Bake Off, which has moved to flagship network BBC One due to its strong ratings. The Great British Pottery Throw Down is about the search for Britain’s best budding potter.
BBC Two also said it would air the 13th season of Family Guy, which previously aired on BBC Three, which is being made into an online-only service. ITV recently picked up the British free-to-air rights for the animated series from the BBC, which has been the home of the hit show since 1999. ITV will be its home starting with the 15th season.
Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, said about the latest commissions: “BBC Two is in great shape. From the critical and ratings success of Wolf Hall, BBC Two’s biggest drama series in at least 13 years, and Banished, which was our fourth-highest drama series launch, to stand-out seasons on Food, The Super Rich And Us, Taking Liberties and our Holocaust Memorial content, we’ve got people talking and watching the channel in significant numbers.”
She added: “The sheer range and quality of content I’m announcing today demonstrates the unique role BBC Two plays in enhancing people’s lives and contributing to the creative life of the U.K. I want BBC Two to be the place to come for widest range of grown-up, opinionated and entertaining content on British television.”
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