Matthew Rhys has landed the lead role in a major BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’s great unfinished work The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.
The Welsh actor – star of hit US drama Brothers And Sisters – will take the role of John Jasper in the murder mystery.
Also appearing in the two-part drama, part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of Dickens’s birth, are New Tricks star Alun Armstrong and Julia McKenzie, star of ITV’s Miss Marple stories.
Tamzin Merchant, who played Catherine Howard in The Tudors, will also feature, as well as Freddie Fox, son of screen veteran Edward Fox, who will play Drood. Rory Kinnear will also take a major role.
The book was famously incomplete when the master writer died in 1870.
But it has been completed by writer Gwyneth Hughes for the BBC, and a murderer will finally be exposed.
Jasper is a choirmaster who develops a murderous hatred of his nephew Edwin Drood, who is engaged to 17-year-old beauty Rosa Bud.
Dickens suffered a stroke while midway through writing Drood and died the following day, June 9 1870, having never regained consciousness. However a brief outline of the plot was relayed to his friend and biographer John Forster.
The drama will be screened next year on BBC2. It had originally been earmarked for BBC4.
Dickens’s Great Expectations is also being adapted by the BBC – starring Gillian Anderson – to be shown at Christmas.