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Busby Babes Reborn

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Football and film haven’t always been the happiest bedfellows. Fond as we are of our dusty Escape To Victory VHS, big-screen portrayals of the beautiful game tend to feature credulity-stretching solo goals, pantomime hooligans and real-life footballers turning in painfully wooden performances.

But that could all change with a BBC one-off about the Busby Babes. On 6 February 1958, British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off, claiming 23 lives. Among those were eight Manchester United players, plus three members of the club’s backroom staff and eight journalists.

United will tell the story of the tragedy and the redemptive triumph of the club who went on to win the European Cup just a decade later.

Expectations will be high considering the heart-wrenching subject matter but — as this exclusive first picture shows — producers haven’t skimped on period detail or meticulous research, and have made some shrewd signings for the cast as well.

David Tennant has hit the pomade to play pivotal United coach Jimmy Murphy, while Dougray Scott takes the role of Matt Busby, and ex-Skins and Harry Brown actor Jack O’Connell (pictured) laces up his boots as crash survivor Bobby Charlton.

There’s plenty of talent behind the scenes too. Torchwood and Life On Mars writer Chris Chibnall has penned the script, and Doctor Who’s James Strong is on directing duties. United will air on BBC Two this autumn and looks about as far from a Goal 2-grade calamity as you can get.

(Image 2: Getty)

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