The BBC have announced the cast for Our Zoo, Big Talk’s first BBC One drama commission based on the inspiring real story of the eccentric Mottershead family who established Chester Zoo in the 1930s.
Lee Ingleby (Inspector George Gently) will play George Mottershead, an ex-serviceman with a dream to build the first British zoo without bars, with Liz White (Line of Duty) playing his loyal wife Lizzie Mottershead, mother to Mew and June.
BAFTA-nominated actress Anne Reid (Last Tango In Halifax) takes the role of Lucy Mottershead, whose world is turned upside down when her husband, Albert (Peter Wight, The Paradise), sells their shop to help fund George’s plans for the zoo and both are forced to live with their son and family in the country.
The series also stars Ralf Little (The Royle Family) as Lizzie’s mischievous brother Billy Atkinson, Sophia Myles (Underworld) playing Lady Katherine, the mysterious aristocrat who lives next door, and Stephen Campbell-Moore (The History Boys) playing Reverend Aaron Webb.
Upcoming actors Amelia Clarkson and Honor Kneafsey play George and Lizzie’s children, Mew (Clarkson) and June (Kneafsey).
Our Zoo is based on an idea introduced to Big Talk by Aenon, the boutique production company headed by Adam Kemp, veteran ex-BBC Factual commissioner. The drama is being supported by June Williams (née Mottershead) and the world-renowned Chester Zoo.
Written by award-winning playwright Matt Charman, Our Zoo will be produced by Marcus Wilson (Doctor Who) and executive produced by Luke Alkin, Kenton Allen and Matthew Justice for Big Talk Productions and Adam Kemp for Aenon. Andy De Emmony (The Bletchley Circle) is lead director. The series has been commissioned for BBC One by commissioning editor for independent drama, Matthew Read and Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning.