26 MARCH 2009 Like her Mamma Mia! colleague Meryl Streep, Julie Walters is one of the few actresses who moves effortlessly between powerful dramatic material and more light-hearted fare. So when C4 were casting their lead for a drama about inspirational politician Mo Mowlam she was at the top of their list.
Mo, a one-off TV feature, will follow the politician's rise in Tony Blair's government and pivotal role in the Irish peace process. As Northern Ireland secretary, Mo - who died aged 55 in 2005 - was famous for her no-nonsense approach, refusing to be intimidated by former men of arms.
On more than one occasion Mo, who battled cancer during the peace negotiations, lightened the atmosphere with a joke or a judiciously used expletive.
Channel 4's head of drama Liza Marshall said: "I can't think of an actress who could more powerfully capture her energy, wit and tragedy than Julie Walters."
Filming begins this summer with the programme scheduled to be screened early next year.