Sophie Okonedo to play Winnie Mandela for BBC

Oscar nominee and Oliver Twist star Sophie Okonedo is starring in a one-off BBC drama, Mrs Mandela.

The fact-based tale of the controversial ex-wife of South African human rights legend Nelson Mandela will screen on BBC Four and BBC Two later in 2009.

The Beeb says Mrs Mandela will be a love story, a triumph and a tragedy, charting Winnie Mandela’s progression from innocent country girl to politicised fighter against apartheid, from adoring wife to revolutionary firebrand.

Shot on location in Soweto, the film focuses on the development of the relationship between Winnie and her husband from their brief courtship in the Fifties to the aftermath of Nelson’s release from prison in 1990.

Opposite Sophie, 40, David Harewood (Blood Diamond) is to star as Nelson and David Morrissey (Doctor Who, The Deal, Blackpool) will play the role of notorious police interrogator Theunis Swanepoel.

BBC Four Controller Richard Klein said: “Winnie Mandela is one of the most controversial figures to emerge in South African politics over the past 50 years, yet for many people in Britain she remains a shadowy figure. The time is ripe for a thoughtful exploration of this larger-than-life character…

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