Bonham Carter, West to play Taylor, Burton

BBC plans 90-minute biopic

LONDON — Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West are to play Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in a BBC biopic.

The 90-minute film, “Burton and Taylor,” is penned by William Ivory and recounts the story of the stars’ ill-fated appearance in a 1983 Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s stage play, “Private Lives,” in the wake of their second divorce.

At the time Burton and Taylor were two of the biggest movie stars in showbiz and their very public on-off romance was echoed in the story of the divorcees in “Private Lives.”

The biopic is being made in-house by the BBC, which has commissioned the film for its upscale U.K. web BBC4.

The pubcaster’s drama controller Ben Stephenson, who unveiled the show as part of a portfolio of small-screen fiction, said “Burton and Taylor” would be BBC4’s final biopic as the channel implements economies.

In recent years BBC4 has won kudos for a series of film biographies, including shows on John Lennon and Enid Blyton, which also starred Bonham Carter.

Other new shows announced by Stephenson included the 13-part “Atlantis,” a family skein aimed to fill the gap left by the demise of “Merlin,” an adaptation of P.D. James’ rebooting of “Pride and Prejudice,” “Death Comes to Pemberley,” and a three-part reworking of Daphne du Maurier’s “Jamaica Inn.”

Stephenson also announced that as part of “Doctor Who’s” 50th anniversary celebrations the pubcaster will screen a special birthday edition on Nov. 23, 50 years after the show bowed in the U.K., broadcast in 3D on the BBC’s domestic HD channel and in U.K. cinemas.