Former Costessey pupil lands major Manchester United film role

A former Costessey High School pupil who appeared alongside Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean has gone onto land the role of a Manchester United footballer killed in the Munich air disaster.

Sam Claflin is to play Black Country football legend Duncan Edwards in a television drama called United which will chronicle the player's final days following the air disaster which killed eight Manchester United players in 1958.

Mr Claflin left Costessey High School in 2003 to take up Performing Arts at Norwich City College before studying for a three-year acting degree at the famous London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

But it was at Costessey High School that he started his rise to acting fame and Dave Watson, the school's former head of performing arts, said he is not in the slightest bit surprised by his former pupil's latest success.

Mr Watson, who is now a teacher of performing arts at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, said: 'He was always totally involved in everything he did and always had this interest to improve, improve and improve.

'Some would just go through the motions, but Sam always went that extra mile to do that bit extra for the role and develop his character. If that's the attitude he still has I can see why he's becoming so successful.'

Mr Watson said he and the school were 'ecstatic' about Mr Claflin's success and added that the pupil himself has never forgotten his past.

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He said: 'He deserves success, he's a lovely fellow. He's never forgotten his roots and always comes back if he gets a chance to see us. He was a pupil at Costessey High School and always takes an interest in what's going on. We stay in touch with him and he stays in touch with us.'

The new film, which is due to be screened on BBC Two next year, follows events leading up to the Munich air disaster and also features Doctor Who star David Tennnant who will portray team coach Jimmy Murphy.

The film focuses on the Busby Babes, named after manager Matt Busby, the fateful air crash which decimated the team and how the side recovered in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The new role comes just months after Mr Claflin, who was shooting in Hawaii with Johnny Depp at the time, was named a 'Star of Tomorrow' by movie industry magazine Screen International which publishes a list of actors it thinks is destined for great things.

As well as performing in productions at Costessey High School, Mr Claflin also took to the stage at the Norwich Theatre Royal.

In 2003 he played the lead role in Robinson Crusoe at the theatre, and the Evening News review said he 'made an absolutely first-class Crusoe, turning in a faultless performance'.

'With his wonderful projection and lovely singing voice to professional standard he surely must have a very bright future,' it added.

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Dudley-born Duncan Edwards was a member of the famed Busby Babes who played for Manchester United and were decimated by the Munich air disaster in 1958.

Edwards, who was just 21 at the time, died of his injuries 15 days after the plane carrying the young squad skidded off the runway while attempting to take off after refuelling. In total 22 people were killed in the crash.

A statue has been placed in his honour in Dudley Market Place and his grave in Dudley Cemetery is still visited by fans.

Mr Edwards' first cousin, Keith Edwards, aged 73, of Arley, near Coventry, said the Busby Babes were still the greatest footballing side ever.

Mr Edwards regularly visits the footballer's grave along with his brother John, aged 76, and their nephew Lawrence.

He said: ''It is only fitting a film like this is made in their honour and we are really looking forward to seeing it.'