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Ian Richardson (House of Cards trilogy) stars as Lord Groan, head of the ancient family of Groan and 76th Earl of Gormenghast. A bibliomaniac, he turns into a simple maniac when his books go up in flames thanks to a nefarious arson plot designed to unhinge his mind. He ends up believing he is an owl. Horror movie legend Christopher Lee (The Curse of Frankenstein, soon to be seen in The Lord of the Rings) plays Flay, Groan’s cadaverous manservant. Exiled for mistreating one of the palace cats, he remains faithful to the dynasty in his search to discover the evil genius who is destroying it. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Titus, Velvet ) plays the arch villain Steerpike, who rises from kitchen boy to Master of the Ritual as he plots to topple the House of Groan and take over. The cast also includes Celia Imrie (Star Wars, Hilary and Jackie) as Gertrude, Countess of Groan, a bird- and cat-fancier who instructs her newborn son’s nanny, “Bring him back when he’s six”; Neve McIntosh (Lady Audley’s Secret) as Fuchsia, Gormenghast’s spoiled princess and Steerpike’s doting pawn; John Sessions as Prunesquallor, the bizarre surgeon-in-chief who has more on the ball than it appears; Richard Griffiths (Hope and Glory; the upcoming Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) as Swelter, the homicidal head of the palace kitchens; Zoë Wanamaker (David Copperfield) and Lynsey Baxter as demented twin aunts, Clarice and Cora, whose fixation on the trappings of power leads them into a ruinous alliance with Steerpike, and Stephen Fry (Jeeves and Wooster) as the narcoleptic Professor Bellgrove. Cameron Powrie plays the child Titus, 77th Earl of Gormenghast, and Andrew Robertson is teenage Titus, who must balance a fierce hatred for his dysfunctional clan with the duty to rid the House of Groan of its usurper, Steerpike. 101: The ancient family of Groan has been incarcerated for centuries in the vast crumbling castle of Gormenghast. The dynasty is threatened by the cunning and evil Steerpike, who is determined to rise from kitchen boy to ruler of the realm. As Steerpike charms, outwits, and terrorizes the castle’s eccentric inhabitants, only Titus, the infant 77th Earl, stands in his way. Steerpike insinuates himself into the service of the kindly Dr. Prunesquallor, the castle physician. From this toehold, he becomes conﬁdant and adviser to Titus’s twin aunts, playing so cleverly on their greed and vanity that they try to burn the family alive at a gathering to celebrate Titus’s ﬁrst birthday. Steerpike becomes a hero by stage-managing a rescue. His rise to the top seems assured when Lord Sepulchrave, the 76th Earl and Titus’s father, goes mad, leaving baby Titus as the head of the Groan dynasty. 102: Steerpike bides his time, becoming apprentice to the Master of Ritual, learning the castle’s innermost secrets while he disposes of the castle’s inhabitants one by one. It is not until Titus is a young man that Steerpike makes his ﬁrst serious slip when he bungles the murder of the Master of the Ritual, leaving himself badly disﬁgured and dangerously ill. Nevertheless, Steerpike runs the castle affairs from his sickbed and on his recovery sets about the seduction of Titus’s self-absorbed sister, Fuchsia. Titus’s suspicions of Steerpike grow into hatred, culminating in a climactic duel to the death set against the fantastic backdrop of the disintegrating castle.
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- Chicago: “Gormenghast,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed June 4, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_7D7DCD8D8663446F8DC1A065DBDBF841.
- MLA: “Gormenghast.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. June 4, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_7D7DCD8D8663446F8DC1A065DBDBF841>.
- APA: Gormenghast. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_7D7DCD8D8663446F8DC1A065DBDBF841