Leslie Grantham (pictured) will star in a new production of Misery, based on Stephen King's best-selling thriller novel. The production opens at Colchester's Mercury Theatre on 11 March 2002 (previews from 7 March) before embarking on a UK-wide tour to 13 cities until the end of June.

Grantham plays popular novelist Paul Sheldon who, for the past ten years, has delighted readers with his cheap historical romances featuring heroine Misery Chastain. During his annual writing retreat, Paul's car crashes in a blizzard. He's rescued by reclusive nurse Annie Wilkes, who also happens to be his number one fan. But when Annie discovers that Paul's latest novel doesn't feature Misery, tender loving care turns into terrorism and a deadly cat and mouse game ensues as Paul finds himself forced to write a chapter of a new novel every day - simply to stay alive.

First published in 1987, two years later Misery was made into a Oscar-winning film, directed by Rob Reiner and starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. Stephen King's many other best-selling thrillers, many of which have been adapted, include Carrie, Children of the Corn, Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary, Christine and The Shining.

Leslie Grantham - perhaps best known as Den Watts, the first landlord of the Queen Vic in the BBC's long running soap opera Eastenders - toured the country last year with Roy Hudd in Eric Chappell's Theft. His other stage credits include Rick's Bar and Cold Sweat in the West End. Grantham is joined in Misery by Sandra Maitland (as Annie), also known as Mandy Jordache from Channel Four's Brookside.

Misery has been adapted for the stage by Simon Moore. This new production is directed by Nigel West and designed by Douglas Heap, with lighting by Mark Doubleday and sound by Rick Clarke. It is produced by Thomas S Baxter in association with the Mercury Theatre.

Following Colchester, Misery visits Greenwich, Peterborough, Preston, Torquay, Buxton, Chelmsford, Hull, Croydon, Billingham, Lincoln, Hastings and Chester.

- by Terri Paddock