Reasons the BBC’s upcoming TV movie about one of Hollywood’s most famous couples will be different from Lifetime’s infamous 2012 film based on the very same pair:
1. This one is called Burton and Taylor, not Liz & Dick. (Surnames are classier.)
2. It stars The Wire’s Dominic West and Academy Award nominee Helena Bonham Carter in the title roles – rather than New Zealand-born actor Grant Bowler and certified train wreck Lindsay Lohan.
According to an announcement made by the British network yesterday, the 90-minute telefilm will focus on Burton and Taylor’s experiences starring opposite one another in a 1983 Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives. A contemporaneous account in New York Magazine reveals that the production, in which the real-life ex-lovers played a pair of fictional ex-lovers, was fraught indeed – it came seven years after the couple had divorced for the second time, while Burton was in declining health and desperate need of a job. Critics had savaged the play’s out of town tryout in Boston; they’d eventually do the same in New York, labeling it nothing but a “calculated business venture.”
Burton and Taylor, directed by Richard Laxton (Him & Her) from a screenplay by William Ivory (Women in Love), will play on BBC Four, though a specific air date has not yet been given. It’s unclear whether it will come to this side of the pond as well – but given the material, a stateside airing seems as likely as Bonham Carter following up the film with a Tim Burton movie.