David Tennant is to star in a new drama which brings to life the story of the “Busby Babes” and the air disaster which claimed many of their lives.

The Manchester United players became the youngest side to win the football league but the squad was ripped apart when eight perished in the Munich air crash in 1958.

The BBC film, United, will bring to life the disaster which virtually wiped out manager Sir Matt Busby’s team and the battle to overcome the devastation.

David – who recently starred in BBC One drama Single Father – will play coach Jimmy Murphy.

Murphy was not involved in the fatal crash but helped to piece together the team as Busby recovered from his injuries.

The team was returning from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade and had stopped to refuel in Munich.

But the Ambassador prop-plane, operated by BEA, skidded off the runway on the third attempt to get airborne for the onward flight.

Half of the 44 passengers – including players, United staff, journalists, supporters and crew – were killed.

Jack O’Connell, who has appeared in Skins, will play Bobby Charlton and Sam Claflin from Any Human Heart will play Duncan Edwards, who died 15 days after the crash.

The actor playing Busby is yet to be named. Filmmakers have drawn on first-hand accounts to piece the story together.

Despite the film being about Manchester United, the BBC said filming would begin later this month in the north east of England.

The corporation said it had chosen to film in the north east because it was more suited to the authentic period locations, plus the production has been part-funded by the region’s screen agency Northern Film and Media.