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Entertainment Plymouth's Charles Dance will open Netflix's much-anticipated The Sandman series

15:01  31 july  2022
15:01  31 july  2022 Source:   plymouthherald.co.uk

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He's played Bond creator Ian Fleming, a ruthless Lord in Game of Thrones and has tried to best the fast-talking Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child - but Plymouth actor Charles Dance is set to become a sinister black magician who tries to capture Death herself.

Dance shows no sign of stopping taking on dramatic roles anytime soon, despite turning 75 last year. The actor, screenwriter and film director, grew up in Plymouth and attended Widey Technical School for Boys in Crownhill.

Dance made his screen debut in 1974, in BBC mystery series Father Brown as Commandant Neil O'Brien, and found a new army of fans after he played the role of Tywin Lannister in the ground-breaking American fantasy drama television series, Game of Thrones. He was a mainstay character for a number of seasons, but came to an ignoble end at the hands of his own son.

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Read next: Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Netflix's epic story of the Endless finally gets release date

In 2019 he revealed that he dropped his Plymouth accent by taking elocution lessons. As he was appearing in the ITV series The Wido he revealed that he grew up in Plymouth, but was born in the Midlands "so through my teens and into my very early twenties I had a combination of a Plymouth accent and a Birmingham accent, neither are particularly attractive.

"If you join them together, I made the most awkward noise. When I met the gurus who taught me everything I've learned, the first thing we worked on was to get my voice sorted out."

Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess and Ansu Kabia as Sykes in Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman © Netflix, Inc. Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess and Ansu Kabia as Sykes in Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman

In his latest role as smooth-talking and commanding occultist Roderick Burgess, Dance will be one of the very first actors to appear in Netflix's new grand series The Sandman, an adaptation from the comic series from the pen of British writer Neil Gaiman. Gaiman's past work which has been adapted for TV, film and even stage includes Good Omen's with Sir Terry Pratchett, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods.

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However, The Sandman has been the most hotly anticipated series since it was first published in the late 1980s and Dance's character effectively opens the show. Roderick Burgess is a black magician at the beginning of the 20th century - in the vein of the true-life English occultist, the infamous Aleister Crowley - who makes use of a rare occult tome, the Magdalene Grimoire, to carry out a ceremony with the aim of trapping the personification of Death.

He announces his intention to trap and cheat death, not just for himself but for his acolytes - but also but also hold further sway over others and enrich himself beyond measure.

Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess in the very first episode of Netflix's The Sandman © Netflix, Inc. Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess in the very first episode of Netflix's The Sandman

However, his ceremony goes awry and instead of snaring Death, he instead captures her younger brother Dream - also known as Morpheus - another of the Endless. Despite the failure, he decides to make the most of the situation and Burgess strips a weakened and unconscious Dream of his symbols of power - a pouch containing sand, a helmet which Dream describes as his "helm of office" crafted from the spine and skull of a long dead god, and a ruby which is described as a powerful dreamstone which carries out Morpheus' wishes.

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Dream is then placed within a crystal cell surrounded by a magic circle which he cannot cross and there he resides for the next 70 years, with Burgess first threatening, then eventually begging him to grant him power. During this time, the world begins to see the effects of Dream being trapped, not least the 'sleepy sickness', a documented medical event which baffled doctors around the world at the time.

Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess with the captured Tom Sturridge as Dream in Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman © Netflix, Inc. Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess with the captured Tom Sturridge as Dream in Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman

Burgess, by now a self-styled Lord Magus who presides over the Order of Ancient Mysteries, is himself betrayed by one of his flock and the symbols of Dream's power are stolen before being bartered away - the helm to a demon of Hell in exchange for protection while the ruby and pouch of sand is stolen by Burgess's former mistress.

The ruby later falls into the hands of a psychotic and truly disturbing Dr John Dee, played by David Thewlis, while the pouch disappears into the unseen world, only traceable by the cunning detective/occultist/magician Johanna Constantine, played by former Dr Who assistant Jenna Coleman.

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David Thewlis as John Dee in Netflix's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman © Netflix David Thewlis as John Dee in Netflix's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman

Burgess eventually comes to a feeble and bitter end, raging and then dying in front of Dream who has remained completely silent and dismissive throughout his incarceration.

Netflix has confirmed The Sandman series will begin streaming on their platform on August 5. The series will consist of 11, one-hour long episodes.

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