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Casanova (BBC Drama, David Tennant, Peter O’Toole)

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Legendary film actor Peter O’Toole and David Tennant lead a stellar cast in Russell T Davies’s major, three-part drama, Casanova.

Tennant plays the 18th-century character as a young man whose extraordinary life takes him on a journey from Venice across Europe. O’Toole plays the older Casanova, as he recounts his adventures to his fellow servant, Edith. This fast-paced and lively tale begins in 1798, in Castle Dux, where Edith, a young parlour maid, is intrigued to discover the castle’s librarian is none other than the infamous Giacomo Casanova.

Outcast by the other servants for his airs and graces, the older Casanova has become somewhat of a recluse, locked away with his memories, until Edith persuades him into regaling her with them. Born the son of an actress and shipped off to boarding school at the age of 12, Casanova is a sullen child, who refuses to talk or take an interest in anything – until he is introduced to sex! When he returns to Venice, aged 21, Casanova is a dashing young scholar, with an unquenchable thirst for life.

He uses his extraordinary wit, intellect and charm to gain entry into Venetian high society, where he meets the beautiful Henriette and falls madly in love. However, like Casanova, Henriette is vying for her place in society and marrying for love isn’t an option – so she agrees to wed Grimani, a powerful and rich patrician. Casanova soon becomes famous for being outrageous, and with the fame comes the women! He learns to listen to them and, in return, they pay him in kind, but nothing can prepare him for Bellino – a beautiful castrato from Bologna. Casanova once again finds himself in love; whilst he is convinced Bellino must be a woman, Bellino and the Church insist otherwise. Casanova finds himself in turmoil – can he really love a boy?

Cast: Peter O’Toole (Casanova), David Tennant (Younger Casanova), Rose Byrne (Edith), Laura Fraser (Henriette), Nina Sosanya (Bellino), Rupert Penry-Jones (Grimani), Shaun Parkes (Rocco), Matt Lucas (Villars), Clare Higgins (Cook), Dervla Kirwan, Simon Day, Mark Heap, David Foxxe, Tamzin Griffin, Andrew Vincent, John Sandilands, Rosanna Lavelle, Tim Scott-Walker, Zachary Fox, Dominic Thomas-James, Joe Cooper, Gabriella Greenblatt, Matthew Holness, Vincent Franklin, Jim Whelan, Martin Oldfield, Jeanne Mockford, Glynis Brooks, Katrine De Candole, Glenna Morrison, Lucinda Raikes, Freddie Jones, Annette Badland

Writer: Russell T. Davies / Script Editor: Saskia Abbott / Music: Murray Gold / Executive Producers: Justin Bodle, Michele Buck, Julie Gardner, Damien Timmer, Russell T. Davies, Nicola Shindler / Producer: Gillian McNeill / Director: Sheree Folkson

UK / BBC-3 – BBC Wales – Granada – Power / 3×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 13-27 March 2005 (There was a quick repeat on BBC One from 4-11 April 2005)