As previously announced on Screenterrier back in October, newcomers 15 year old Archie Cox from Cirencester, who didn't realise he was auditioning for the main role until he was down to the final three, and 16 year old Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, the daughter of actor Lorraine Ashbourne and Andy Serkis who will be making her own television debut, star in the new BBC adaption of of Laurie Lee's classic memoir of the Cotswolds, Cider With Rosie.
The younger versions will be played by Georgie Smith, a ten-year-old schoolboy from Cheltenham, and Libby Easton, a seven-year-old who lives near Laurie Lee’s real home in Slad, pictured above.
Georgie, Libby and Archie were all spotted in Gloucestershire schools, where they were among 500 pupils who took part in casual workshops while casting directors looked on.
Director Phillippa Lowthorpe said: “We really wanted to capture authentic accents and the sense of an innocence you get in the countryside. The younger cast we found in exactly the same way as the older children, which was hunting around schools in Gloucestershire and inviting children to come to some workshops.”
What these kids have which is so rare is a wonderful stillness on screen,” she said. “They barely do anything, and that's proper screen acting. They make it look so easy and so natural.
I prefer working with non-professional children. It's a very different skill, film acting from stage acting, and I quite liked the fact neither Ruby nor Archie had any ambition to be an actor.
They felt so right for the part, it came from another place."
Archie Cox admitted he has definitely caught the acting bug now, despite wanting to be an architect before. “It was sudden because I did not think I was going to get it. Some of the boys at the workshop had been to drama school,” he added. “In primary school I was in one play, but that was it.”
Richard Easton, the father of Libby, said the schoolgirl’s previous acting experience was limited to playing a wolf in her school’s Christmas production of The Jungle Book.
“It’s a bit surreal to see her on the screen,” he said. “It was a fantastic experience for her. She loved it and it gave her a bit more confidence.”
Georgie Smith’s mother, Nicola Stevens, said his brush with fame “hasn’t fazed him”, but had left him wanting to practice his drama after being told he is a “natural”.
A vivid memoir of Laurie Lee’s childhood, Cider With Rosie is an evocative coming-of-age story set in an idyllic Cotswold village during and immediately after the Great War.
Samantha Morton stars as Annie Lee, with Emma Curtis as Marj, Jessica Hynes as Miss Crabby; June Whitfield as Granny Wallon; Annette Crosbie as Granny Trill; and Billy Howle as Private James Harris. Timothy Spall is the voice of the grown-up Laurie Lee.
Cider with Rosie will be shown on BBC One at the end of September, date and time to be confirmed.