THE adaptations of Roald Dahl's books by Netflix are some of the most eagerly anticipated shows on TV.
And that will intensify now the global streaming giant has got Benedict Cumberbatch on board.
I can reveal the star of Marvel’s Dr Strange films will play the title role in The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar And Six More, a collection of Dahl’s short stories. It will also star Ben Kingsley.
A TV insider said: “This was already a huge project for Netflix but it’s set to gain even more attention thanks to these signings.
“Ralph Fiennes has been linked to the adaptations too.
“They’re the calibre of actors who add credibility to any project.
“They are just three of the stars who are set to form a stellar cast on the shows.”
Netflix announced in September it had joined forces with the Roald Dahl Story Company to create a universe of products based on the writer’s much-loved yarns.
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As well as Sir Henry Sugar, the creative team is already working on versions of Matilda: The Musical, to which Ralph was linked, and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
A Netflix spokesman said: “As we bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats, we’re committed to maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness, while also sprinkling some fresh magic into the mix.
“We have got an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories for children and adults around the world for generations to come.”
Here’s hoping Netflix really does the stories justice.
And with Benedict and Ben on board, we’re confident they’ll be a big hit.
READ MORE FROM ROD MCPHEE'S BIZ TV COLUMN
RICKY GERVAIS is thrilled by the reception given to his new series of After Life – even though hasn’t aired yet.
Netflix has released the official trailer for the comedy online and got a huge response, which its star and creator has been grateful for.
Ricky said: “It had like a million views straight away, and now it’s something like five million.
“So thank you. Went down a treat.”
He also elaborated on a tribute which viewers might have spotted in the promo. He said: “There’s a line in the trailer where Anne says, ‘There are angels . . . they don’t have wings and live in clouds, they wear nurses’ uniforms.’
“That was a little tribute to all the key workers of the last two years who’ve done an incredible job. You don’t want people to forget and go back to like nothing happened.”
GMB Kate: others deserve my MBE
GOOD Morning Britain host Kate Garraway says trolls have told her she does not deserve her MBE.
The presenter received the honour for services to broadcasting, journalism and charity.
It followed her hard-hitting documentary Finding Derek, which charted her family’s struggle after husband Derek Draper became seriously ill with Covid in March 2020.
Appearing on GMB yesterday to discuss her award, she said: “I feel very awkward about it.
“I don’t know why as I’m thrilled to bits and incredibly honoured. You think, ‘Why me?’.
“There have been a few comments since it was announced from people saying, ‘Why has she got one? I look after my husband and I haven’t got one’.
“But it isn’t for looking after Derek – it’s for broadcasting and charity work.
“But there are lots of others who deserve it more.”
Gloria spotted an issue
TELLY veteran Gloria Hunniford says her Snow Leopard costume on The Masked Singer brought her to tears – and not just because it was uncomfortable.
She became the second celeb unmasked in the hit ITV show’s new series – despite belting out Shirley Bassey classic Big Spender.
The Loose Women regular said: “The show’s costume-makers are sensational.
“The first time we tried the mask on, it came with this big box, and I love snow leopards.
“And when they took the mask out, I cried. It was so beautiful. But the mask wasn’t tight enough, so when I turned my head back to sing, the mask flew back.”
Thank goodness they fixed it – otherwise the cat would have been out of the bag.
Dis looks great on Nad
ONLY Strictly beauty Nadiya Bychkova could pull off an outfit like this.
Made up of ripped jeans, a Mickey Mouse T-shirt and an oversized granny coat, it’s the sort of thing the rest of us might sling on to nip to the shops when we were hungover.
But the Ukrainian pro dancer, who was partnered with klutzy BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker on the last series, still looked stunning.
And it will be a while before we see Nadiya back in one of her more usual glittery dresses because she isn’t in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing tour, which starts on January 20.
We’ll have to wait until the autumn to see those stunning outfits – and famous legs – once again.
Hopefully she won’t be lumbered with someone with two left feet this time.
Malory Towers is back
THE second run of kids’ drama Malory Towers begins next week on CBBC, with one episode airing daily from Monday to Thursday at 6pm.
The lockdown hit adapts the series of ENID BLYTON novels featuring pupil Darrell Rivers at the all-girls boarding school that gives the show its title.
SURANNE JONES was more worried about returning home in the pandemic than going back to work.
The star of BBC drama Vigil, who previously revealed she suffers from anxiety, said she felt protected filming on set.
Speaking on That Gaby Roslin Podcast, she said: “I was in this little bubble where everyone was still wearing masks and we were being very cautious and people were giving each other space.
“So when I stepped out into the real world – only a few weeks ago I finished filming the new series of Gentleman Jack – it made me anxious.
“Even taking my son to school or getting everybody ready to get out of the house this morning . . .
“This job is wonderful and I’m privileged to do it but you are really absent from your life when you take on big roles.”
Top duo quit
THIS Morning fans fear hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby may have secretly quit the show after they failed to return following the Christmas break.
The pair did their last show on December 10. Viewers expecting them back yesterday got Dermot O'Leary O’LEARY and Alison Hammond.
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