Clough's 44 days at Leeds United given big screen treatment

THE story of Brian Clough's turbulent 44-days as Leeds United boss is being given the big screen treatment by two of the film world's hottest names.

Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan, the Oscar-nominated duo behind The Queen, have confirmed they are working on an adaptation of Yorkshire author David Peace's novel The Damned Utd.

Written from Clough's perspective, the book tells how he was forced out of Elland Road in 1974 after failing to win over a team still fiercely loyal to Don Revie.

The actor with the unenviable task of filling Ol' Big 'Ead's shoes in the film version is Michael Sheen, who starred as Tony Blair opposite Helen Mirren in The Queen. Frears says he has yet to cast the role of Revie – joking recently that Leonardo DiCaprio was too young.

He also admits it will be a tough task to sell a movie about a hard-drinking, megalomaniac English football manager of the 1970s to an American audience.

But the project is sure to be greeted with delight by Leeds fans who helped make The Damned Utd one of the word-of-mouth publishing hits of last year.

Elland Road heroes like Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Allan Clarke all feature heavily in a work which its Ossett-born author has described as an "occult history" of the Whites.

Peace's first four books – the Red Riding Quartet – were labyrinthine tales of police and council corruption, set in the Yorkshire of the 70s. His fifth novel, GB84, looked at the devastating impact of the miners' strike on pit communities.

Frears has won an Oscar nomination for best director for The Queen, a fictional account of the Royal Family's reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Morgan, a former University of Leeds student, is in the running to take the gong for best original screenplay at the Academy Awards, which are being held later this month in Los Angeles.

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