20 OCTOBER 2005

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Having already won the praise of critics for her roles in The Canterbury Tales and Doctor Who, former pop star Billie Piper is now trying her hand at Shakespeare. The 23-year-old is teaming up with rising star Damian Lewis in a new re-working of the bard's classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing.

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The BBC production will offer a rather different take on the play, transporting the action from 16th-century Messina to a television newsroom in modern-day Britain. Cutting It star Sarah Parish takes on the role of Beatrice, an anchor-woman who can't stand the sight of her co-host, Benedick, played by Damian.

Billie meanwhile gets the chance to strut her stuff as Hero, the adorable bride who must clear her name after being accused of infidelity. Eagle-eyed movie fans will remember Kate Beckinsale played the same role, alongside Emma Thompson, Richard Briers and Keanu Reeves, in the 1993 film.

And the forthcoming flick, which is due to hit UK television screens next month, is just one of several Shakespeare plays that are getting a contemporary revamp courtesy of the Beeb. Comedian Johnny Vegas heads up the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream, while Rufus Sewell gets to grips with a feisty Shirley Henderson in The Taming Of The Shrew.

Find Damian Lewis, Billie Piper, on Ask Jeeves

Damian Lewis, Billie Piper

Damian, Billie and Sarah are bringing a contemporary new twist to the classic comedy, which has been set in a modern-day newsroom
Photo: BBC
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Also for the BBC's upcoming bard fest, popular stand-up performer Johnny Vegas tries his hand at a different kind of comedy in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo: BBC

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