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Gareth Southgate to be played by Joseph Fiennes in Dear England – a new play about penalty misses and his ‘quiet reform’ of the beautiful game | Ents & Arts News

Joseph Fiennes is to play Gareth Southgate in a new play about the England men’s football manager’s “quiet reform” of the beautiful game – and the pressures of taking on the team with “the worst track record for penalties in the world”.

Dear England is written by acclaimed playwright and TV writer James Graham, and takes its name from an open letter to fans written by Southgate in 2021.

The story is inspired by the footballer’s journey from his infamous key penalty miss for England against Germany at Euro 96, to leading England to their first major final since the famous 1966 World Cup victory.

Fiennes, who is known for his roles in TV series including The Handmaid’s Tale and American Horror Story, and films including Shakespeare In Love and Enemy At The Gates, will take on the role when the show opens in June.

“It’s time to change the game,” begins the synopsis for the play, which will be staged at the National Theatre’s Olivier Theatre, in London. “The country that gave the world football has since delivered a painful pattern of loss. Why can’t England’s men win at their own game?

“With the worst track record for penalties in the world, Gareth Southgate knows he needs to open his mind and face up to the years of hurt to take team and country back to the promised land.”

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Graham, whose plays include the Tony-nominated Ink, Privacy, Best Of Enemies and Quiz – about the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? coughing scandal, which he turned into a TV series in 2020 – said it was the “greatest thrill, if an intimidating responsibility” to tell the story on stage at the National.

“What Gareth Southgate has attempted in his quiet cultural reform of England football I find epic and deeply moving,” he said. “And I’m so grateful to be surrounded by some of British theatre’s most exciting creative talent to unite around this new show.”

Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said: “Dear England is a captivating examination into the complex psychology of the much loved ‘beautiful game’.”

Fiennes is the brother of Harry Potter and James Bond actor Ralph Fiennes and also a distant relative of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

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In 2021, Southgate penned Dear England to fans ahead of the Euro 2020 final (played in 2021 due to the pandemic) against Italy – which England went on to lose, once again, on penalties.

“I think about all the young kids who will be watching this summer, filling out their first wall charts,” he wrote at the end of the letter.

“No matter what happens, I just hope that their parents, teachers and club managers will turn to them and say, ‘Look. That’s the way to represent your country’. That’s what England is about. That is what’s possible. If we can do that, it will be a summer to be proud of.”

Tickets for Dear England go on sale to the public on 9 March 2023, with the play set to run from 10 June to 11 August.

Charley Bates: Family pays tribute to ‘beautiful’ 16-year-old boy stabbed to death in Somerset town | UK News

A “beautiful” 16-year-old boy who was stabbed to death in Somerset has been named as Charley Bates as his family has paid tribute.

Charley died in The Street in the town of Radstock on Sunday evening.

Emergency services had been called to a car park there around 6.40pm following reports of disorder involving a number of people.

Charley, who lived in the area, was found critically injured and, despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The teenager’s family said: “Our beautiful Charley Boy. We are all so very proud of you. You are desperately missed by so many.”

Police charged 18-year-old Joshua Delbono, of Frome, with murder on Tuesday.

He was due to appear at Bath Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Three other people have been arrested by officers investigating Charley’s death.

A 20-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man were detained on suspicion of murder, while another man, also 18, was held on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

The woman has since been released under investigation, while the two men remain in custody for further questioning.

Avon and Somerset Police said Year 11 pupils in the area are being offered support by school staff.

And any young people affected by the incident can talk to youth workers who have set up a drop-in.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to call 101 and give the reference 5222182800.