Jude Bellingham added to BBC’s Dear England adaptation after last-minute bicycle kick goal

Dear England playwright James Graham has revealed that the forthcoming BBC adaptation of his acclaimed football play will be updated to include Jude Bellingham’s 96th-minute equalizer against Slovakia at Euro 2024.

Graham, 41, told Variety that it “feels likely and necessary to feature Jude, and his incredible balletic moment of pure theatre.”

Harry Kane described the last-gasp goal that rescued England from elimination from the tournament as the “best in England’s history.”

Dear England, which premiered at the National Theatre in 2023 and won two Olivier Awards, follows manager Gareth Southgate’s attempt to reinvent the national team and, simultaneously, its values.

Graham revealed last month that he plans to alter the ending of the theatrical show depending on the outcome of this summer’s Euros. He has been attending the tournament in person as part of his research for the play and the series.

“It’s quite frightening,” Graham told The Independent in June. “I’ve promised a new ending, and I need it to be as beautiful or more beautiful than how the World Cup ended.”

Joseph Fiennes as Gareth Southgate in ‘Dear England’, and Jude Bellingham at Euro 2024 (Marc Brenner/Getty)
Joseph Fiennes as Gareth Southgate in ‘Dear England’, and Jude Bellingham at Euro 2024 (Marc Brenner/Getty)

The play’s original narrative focused on England getting to the World Cup quarter-finals, with captain Harry Kane missing the crucial penalty against France and “repeating the fate of his mentor” Southgate.

The BBC announced in February that they will adapt the play into a drama series with Joseph Fiennes reprising his role as Southgate.

The four-part series will be written by Graham and directed by the play’s director Rupert Goold.

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, said at the time: “Dear England was a back-of-the-net triumph on stage, and we could not be happier to work with James Graham, Joseph Fiennes, Rupert Goold and the team to give it the perfect home on the BBC.

“A story about the England team, football, national identity and so much more, this is hugely entertaining must-see television drama.”

The drama will be produced by Left Bank Pictures, the company behind Netflix juggernaut The Crown.

Andy Harries, CEO of Left Bank Pictures and executive producer on Dear England, said: “Dear England is a theatrical tour de force from one of the most exciting playwrights of our generation.

“Left Bank Pictures are thrilled to be working with James Graham once again and I’m certain that the TV adaptation of Dear England will be as ground-breaking as the play itself.”

The play was warmly received by many critics and picked up Olivier Awards for Best New Play and Best Supporting Actor (Will Close as Harry Kane).

In her three-star review of the play last summer, The Independent’s Jessie Thompson praised Fiennes’s “remarkable” portrayal of Southgate, noting that he “captures the gentle head nods, the toothy smile that sometimes feels more like a grimace, the soft, nervy exterior hiding a steely inner resolve.”