Burnley man to star in new BBC drama

Lee in scenes from the series, here with Liz White and Honor Kneafsey

Lee in scenes from the series, here with Liz White and Honor Kneafsey

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN EAST Lancashire actor is to star in a new BBC drama about the history of Chester Zoo.

Our Zoo stars Lee Ingleby, from Burnley as the zoo's founder, George Mottershead, and will be broadcast in a six-part series.

Ingleby, 38, who has previously appeared on screen in Inspector George Gently and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, plays the Manchester-born founder.

The former Accrington and Rossendale College student said he had no idea about the zoo’s background until he received the script.

He said: “I went there on a school trip when I was seven or eight, but I’d never heard the history of it.

“I found it really fascinating how this guy just had a vision.

“It wouldn’t happen now. There’d be so many hurdles to jump over.”

The Our Zoo story began in 1930, when kind-hearted ex-serviceman George visited Liverpool docks — and returned home with an unwanted squirrel monkey and a camel which was about to be put down.

After coming across a run-down stately home surrounded by acres of land, he hatched a plan to create a ‘zoo without bars’, and persuaded his family and bank manager to take the leap with him.

The drama follows George securing an initial £3,000 loan to open the zoo, which went on to become one of the largest in Europe, the following year.

Today, Chester Zoo is the largest zoo in the UK and is home to 11,000 animals and 400 different species.

The former Edge End High School pupil said: “I think the idea was so romantic and made complete sense to him that he just grabbed it.

“I don’t think they made any money for years. It was a real labour of love.”

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