Sunday Theatre: Miss Potter

Sunday 7 June, 8.30pm

Academy Award-winner Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain) steps into the role of the iconic writer, Beatrix Potter, in tonight’s Sunday Theatre: Miss Potter, at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

Also starring Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge) and Emily Watson (Gosford Park), Miss Potter tells of the writers love for her publisher, Norman Warne (McGregor), and her striving towards an independent life at a time when her expected place in society was as a conformist wife. It praises her talented pen – both as writer and artist – that created the world of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-winkle, Jeremy Fisher and their friends.

Beatrix Potter’s conventional Victorian parents did not view their daughter’s adolescent stories about animals and the accompanying drawings as having particular merit. They were even less enthusiastic about her affection for a man “in trade” and, hoping for a more acceptable liaison, insisted the relationship remain a secret.

Director Chris Noonan (Babe) says viewers who immediately think cuddly bunnies when they hear Beatrix Potter’s name mentioned, are in for a surprise. She was an independent free thinker who fell in love with her publisher, Norman Warne; she left a publishing legacy that has enchanted every generation since then; and she left vast swathes of England’s beautiful Lake District to the nation, in bequests to the National Trust.

“I don’t think many people know a great deal about her life,” says Noonan, who has a vision of Beatrix as a modern woman placed into the suffocating social environment of the turn of the 20th Century.

Noonan believes Zellweger made the role of Beatrix Potter, uniquely her own: “There is nothing over produced or over-rehearsed about Renée’s performance. There’s real spontaneity. You know she has an anarchic, subversive sense of humour, and when you learn more about Beatrix Potter, you discover she had real wit, and was far earthier than you might suppose.”

Australian Chris Noonan is the man who wrote and directed Babe and elevated a pig to superstardom. If he could do that, imagine what he can do for an iconic English writer. Be watching tonight’s Sunday Theatre: Miss Potter at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

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