Tuesday 21 May 2019

BBC announces feature-length film on life of poet Seamus Heaney

The internationally-famous writer died in 2013.

Irish poet, playwright and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney (PA)
Irish poet, playwright and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney (PA)

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

The BBC has announced a feature-length film exploring the life of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.

Following the Irish writer’s death at 74 in 2013, his wife, children and brothers have shared poems and insights into family life with Heaney with “intimacy and poignancy”.

Raised in a family of nine children and the son of a cattle dealer, he shot to fame in 1966 with his earthy portrayals of rural life in his lauded collection Death Of A Naturalist.

Heaney has been described as the greatest Irish poet since WB Yeats, and forged an international reputation for verse which lead to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

With the working title of Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens, the film will examine his powerful rise as a modern bard with the help of his wife Marie, and his three children Michael, Christopher and Catherine.

Patrick Holland, controller of BBC Two, said: “Seamus Heaney is a cultural colossus who created some of the most powerful, beautiful and resonant poetry of the last 50 years. This film promises exceptional intimacy and poignancy.

“I am so delighted the family has agreed to share their memories him for the BBC Two audience.”

Mark Bell, commissioning editor of BBC Arts, called the film “a rich and tender appraisal of this great writer using the memories of his family and those closest to him”.

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Seamus Heaney’s family will offer insights into his life (Niall Carson/PA)

Heaney was born in County Londonderry and raised in a rural setting. He later attended university in Belfast.  His poetic breakthrough came with publication by Faber And Faber in 1966.

His younger life was lived in parallel with The Troubles, which he refused to let dominate his poetry. 

Heaney moved to County Wicklow in the Republic in the early 1970s, and remained an Irish citizen.

A friend of Ted Hughes, Heaney’s poetry came to be admired internationally, and his work has been widely used in school syllabuses.

The famed poet was also praised for his translation work, in particular the ancient epic Beowulf.

Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens is a DoubleBand Films production in association with Lone Star Productions for BBC Arts, BBC Two and BBC Northern Ireland.

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