LONDON — Three years after her death, Princess Diana is being considered for a speaking role in a TV movie about British journo Andrew Morton, who wrote the controversial biography “Diana: Her True Story.”
Although Diana never met Morton, whose book blew the lid off the royal fairy tale back in 1992, she secretly provided him with 23 audiotapes spilling her side of the story.
These tapes have never before been heard in public — indeed, Morton only revealed their existence after Diana’s death. But now he has made them available to the producers of “The Biographer,” a $7 million telepic lensed in March at London’s Ealing Studios.
The movie includes key scenes in which the Morton character, played by Paul McGann, listens to the tapes.
The filmmakers are now debating whether to use genuine extracts, with Diana’s actual voice, or to re-record them with an actress.
It’s a hugely sensitive issue, particularly in the U.K., where Diana has become almost a sacred icon since her fatal accident in a Paris underpass.
The producers know that using Diana’s real voice — talking about the intimate details of her doomed marriage to Prince Charles — would have powerful dramatic impact and generate huge public interest. But they also fear it could be regarded as a serious breach of taste and spark a backlash.
Then there’s the question of whether Diana’s estate, which guards her image jealously, could take legal action to block the broadcasting of the tapes. Outside the U.K., Morton’s ownership of the copyright is thought to be relatively clear-cut, but in Britain her voice is believed to remain the property of the estate.
“The Biographer” was directed by well-known Brit TV helmer Philip Saville and written by playwright Joshua Lacey. Alongside McGann, it stars Brian Cox as Morton’s publisher and Faye Dunaway as a rival hack.
The producer is Christian Seidel, a former Kirch exec who developed the project through his Munich-based Pipeline Films. Budget was raised from an unidentified U.S. investment fund.
Worldwide sales are being handled by vet financier John Heyman, who will start screening it for U.S. webs in New York this week.