BBC calls Boyle to telepic roots

Director to shoot two pics in home town of Manchester

LONDON — It’s a long way from directing Leonardo DiCaprio on a Thai beach to the slums of Manchester, but Danny Boyle is returning to his roots.

In his first outing since “The Beach,” Boyle has signed up to direct two gritty, personal telepics for the BBC, both based on screenplays by Jim Cartwright.

“Vacuuming Nude in Paradise” and “Strumpet,” which will shoot back to back, are both set in Manchester, the northern English city in which Boyle grew up.

This will be the first time since his debut movie “Shallow Grave” in 1996 that Boyle has worked separately from writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, who teamed with him on “Trainspotting,” “A Life Less Ordinary,” “Alien Love Triangle” and “The Beach.”

Indeed, this seems to signal a new phase in Boyle’s career after his rapid ascent from slick Brit pics to the Hollywood heights.

“I think Danny really wants to do something raw, powerful and emotional,” said David Thompson, head of BBC Films.

Boards walk

Though not short of big-budget offers after “The Beach,” which grossed $200 million worldwide, Boyle has chosen instead to revisit not only his own background but also the kind of work that characterized his earlier stage career with London’s Royal Court Theater, a hotbed of political radicalism and artistic experimentation.

Cartwright comes directly from that tradition, establishing himself as one of Britain’s leading dramatists with such working-class plays as “Road” and “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice,” which subsequently became a hit movie.

“Vacuuming Nude” and “Strumpet” were both written directly for the small screen. They are described by Thompson as “extraordinary, surreal pieces, with vivid, visual scripts.” Few details are available about the plotlines, with the first described as “about music” and the second “about high-profile selling.”

Pic hatchlings

For BBC Films, this is part of a longstanding policy to make telepics with feature talent alongside its movie output. Indeed, some of the pubcaster’s biggest theatrical hits have started this way, from Roger Michell’s “Persuasion” and Stephen Frears’ “The Snapper” to John Madden’s “Mrs. Brown.”

The BBC is currently touring the fest circuit with another example of this crossover genre, Frears’ latest pic “Liam.”

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