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BBC One announce new drama Men Up about the first trials for Viagra

The 90-minute drama has been inspired by the remarkable true story of one of the world's first medical trials for the drug that became Viagra.


Written by Matthew Barry, produced by Quay Street Productions and executive produced by Russell T Davies, Men Up has been inspired by the trial for Viagra which was held in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994.


Years before the little blue pill changed the lives of millions across the globe, a group of ordinary middle-aged Welsh men underwent the extraordinary, taking part in one of the first clinical trials for an unknown drug which later became Viagra.


Iwan Rheon, Steffan Rhodri, Paul Rhys, Phaldut Sharma and Mark Lewis Jones star as Meurig Jenkins, Colin White, Tommy Cadogan and Peetham 'Pete' Shah who all have one thing in common. Impotence.


Drowning in shame and silence, their impotence affects them in every aspect of their lives, leaving them feeling like failures as men, questioning their manhood. Having attempted their own fixes to no avail, the group are presented with a lifeline, a place on a trial for an unknown drug thought to cure impotence led by the ambitious Dr Dylan Pearce, played by Aneurin Barnard, with support from clinical nurse Moira Davies, played by Joanna Page.


As each man grapples with their own insecurities, they each hide the truth from their loved ones, including their wives and partners. Ffion Jenkins and Teresa Rigby, played by Alexandra Roach and Lisa Palfrey, are also fighting their battles. Will this little pill be able to bring back their spark?


Men Up promises to mix drama with humour as it tells the poignant and beautiful story in which a group of unassuming men rise to the challenge to reclaim their sex lives.


The feature-length drama also stars Alexandria Riley, Nathan Sussex, Dyfan Dwyfor and Katy Wix and will be directed by Ashley Way and produced by Karen Lewis.


Speaking about the new drama, writer Matthew Barry said "Who knew that one of the first Viagra trials in the world took place in 1994... in Swansea! I’m beyond delighted to be working with Nicola, Russell, and the entire team to bring this extraordinary tale to the screen."


"People hear the word impotence, and they wait for the punchline. But this story is about so much more. And with an incredible Welsh cast, led by Iwan Rheon and Alexandra Roach, I can't wait to bring it to the screen."


To which BBC Drama's Director of Drama added "Men Up is a little-known chapter of our history, beautifully told across 90 minutes of poignant, funny, and life-affirming television. It’s no surprise that Matthew’s charming and intelligent script has attracted such a strong ensemble of acting talent, and I cannot wait to see them bring his words to life."


Man Up will be executive produced by Russell T Davies alongside Nicola Shindler and Davina Earl for Quay Street Productions, Rachel Evans for Boom alongside Matthew Barry and Rebecca Ferguson for the BBC.


Executive producer Davina Earl said "Men Up is one of those truly remarkable true stories that is a joy to be able to bring to the screen. This is the type of story that we love at Quay Street – one of heart, soul, complex characters, with humour and drama at the centre. With Matthew Barry’s fantastic script coupled with our stellar cast, audiences are in for a treat."


To which fellow executive producer Rachel Evans added "This little-known story deserves to be shouted from the rooftops and Matthew Barry’s deft writing has brought a human, hilarious slice of Swansea in the 90s to life. Boom is delighted to be co-producing with Quay Street Productions to feature the Welsh men and women who pioneered the use of a drug which became known right across the globe."


Made for BBC One, Man Up is a co-commission with BBC Wales and has received Welsh Government support via Creative Wales. Speaking about the upcoming drama, BBC Cymru Wales Head of Commissioning Nick Andrews said "It's almost too extraordinary to be true. And yet it is! Matt Barry's exquisite script has brought to life a precious true story, a social history, that will leave you punching the air with the sheer joy and triumph of it all. A truly Welsh story with global impact."


To which Creative Wales' Deputy Director, Gerwyn Evans, added "This production is bringing high quality jobs, skills development and fair work to the local area including trainee placements as part of the Economy Futures Fund. I'm delighted to see this remarkable story from Swansea get the recognition it deserves. Supported by a cast of stellar Welsh actors, I look forward to seeing this little-known story brought to life when it arrives on our screens!"


Men Up will air later this year on BBC One

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