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Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the BAFTA for Best British Screenplay for his version, Linehan was keen to put his own stamp on the production. He says, “I’m hoping that the people who know the fi lm will be as surprised by the play as the people who aren’t so familiar with it. Apart from a few key lines, and one key speech, it’s an entirely new script. “I wanted the fi lm to ‘haunt’ the play, so fans of the fi lm will see various elements they recognise. It’s very diff erent, but I’ve tried to be true to the spirit of the fi lm while carving my own initials on it. I knew if it wasn’t fun for me, it wouldn’t be fun for the audience, and if it wasn’t fun for the audience, I would be doing the writers of the original a disservice.” Not short of experience or accolades himself, Linehan has collected a number of BAFTAs for his work on Father Ted, T e IT Crowd and Black Books, as well as writing for the likes of Harry Enfi eld, T e Fast Show, Steve Coogan and Brass Eye. He adds, “T e studio sitcom format

probably helped me prepare, given that it’s a weird format that’s halfway between theatre and TV, but I still had a lot to learn. I was very lucky to have people who knew the theatre give me some pointers on how to navigate this new territory. “[I enjoyed working on] Father Ted because I was writing with Arthur Mathews, and because

there was something about the setting that allowed us a huge amount of freedom. T ere was an internal logic to the show, but we could still push the ‘reality’ of Craggy Island in so many ways. I’ll be very lucky if I ever have another writing experience like it. “I’m a terrible procrastinator though, so

every time I fi nish a script it feels like my greatest achievement.” As well as Rose’s award-winning screenplay,

Linehan’s new cast also have some pretty impressive shoes to fi ll with Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner and Katie Johnson all starring in the original 1955 fi lm. T e Coen brothers also put their stamp on the production in 2004 with another fi lm version starring Tom Hanks.

“It’s much more important that the director is comfortable with the cast than the writer, so I tried not to stick my oar in too much.”

Linehan says, “I would argue that the Coen

brothers’ version wasn’t so successful...but yes, there is a bit of pressure in that the fi lm version has such a perfect shape. Everything ends up tied in a neat bow, and for a long time I fretted

that I couldn’t pull off the same trick. But as my version took on its own life, I stopped worrying about that and let it do its own thing. “Everything was up in the air until we did a read-through for a selected audience, including Kindred Rose, the son of original writer William Rose. It went very well indeed, and after that everything started happening very quickly.”

Enlisting their own all-star cast, Linehan

and director Sean Foley will be working alongside the BAFTA winning Peter Capaldi, Four Weddings And A Funeral star James Fleet, Ben Miller, who is best known as one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller, Clive Rowe, Stephen Wight and Marcia Warren as Mrs Wilberforce. Linehan concludes, “It’s much more

important that the director is comfortable with the cast than the writer, so I tried not to stick my oar in too much. T at said, everyone’s gone out of their way to make sure I’m happy with each decision, and the result is a cast I can’t wait to see on the stage together.”

T e Ladykillers will play at the Liverpool Playhouse from November 3–19, 2011, prior to opening at the Gielgud T eatre on November 26. For tickets or information, visit


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