James Norton to play gay painter Duncan Grant in new BBC drama

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Actor James Norton is to play painter Duncan Grant in a new drama exploring the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists.

Grant – who romanced men including economist John Maynard Keynes and Liberal politician Arthur Hobhouse – is one of the great British artists of the 20th century.

The BBC drama, Life In Squares, will explore the relationships between members of the group, including Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell.

James Norton – best known for roles in Happy Valley and Death Comes to Pemberley – will take up the role of Grant in the three-part drama, which is set in the period from the death of Queen Victoria to the outbreak of the Second World War.

BBC Two Kim Shillinglaw said: “The legacy of the Bloomsbury set resonates to this day.

“I’m delighted that such an incredibly talented team are bringing them alive for a modern audience on BBC Two.”

Lucy Bedford, executive producer said: “Life in Squares gets under the skin of the Bloomsbury group to lay bare the very human and emotional story of a group of people determined to find their own path in life.

“At heart, Life in Squares is about family: about the families we try to escape, the ones we end up creating and the different kinds of damage love can do.”

The drama will film later this summer.