special reporter

"Ron Uphill"

The cast for the film of the "Tracey Morris Story" is announced

Ron Uphill Reports From The Hollywood Hills

On 22 April 'The Times' carried an item suggesting that there was some resemblance between Tracey Morris and Gwyneth Paltrow, and that if Tracey won gold in Athens Ms Paltrow would be an obvious choice to portray the "optician turned unlikely Olympic marathon qualifier". Your fell running correspondent decided this was a story worth investigating, so I duly diversified into showbiz reporting and headed for greater Los Angeles.

I have had an L of a time over here because in order to stay fit for the fells I've been doing hill sprints up and down to the Ls on the HOLLYWOOD sign. Anyway the great news from the studio is that plans for the movie are well advanced and lots of big stars are signing up to appear. Obviously Gwyneth is delighted to be taking the title role but is hoping the costume contract will go to Gucci rather than Fastrax. The exciting news is that all action hero Vin Diesel will appear as Paul Morris, while Dustin Hoffman has let it be known that he was born to play Valley Striders supremo Bob Jackson. Dustin is preparing for this role in his usual methodical way by organising races and staying up all night writing newsletters and firing off emails.

It has not been easy to recruit the most appropriate actors for the vital roles in Tracey's coaching team. Steven Seagal was felt to be an excellent look-alike for Steve O'Callaghan, but unfortunately in screen tests the studio soon realised he could not act (and wondered how he has managed to make so many films). Sylvester Stallone had the right physical presence but insisted on playing the ex policeman as a monosyllabic Vietnam vet who had won the world heavyweight boxing championship. In the end the role of chief coach went to a class act; John Malkovich will be Steve O, but he has been sent to Renee Zellweger's dietician with instructions to eat himself into the role.

First choice to play coaching boffin Max Jones was Wilfred Hyde-White. He failed to answer his phone for weeks before the casting director realised he had died several years ago. Fortunately Ron Moody was available and there are high hopes that this talented English actor will do justice to the genius of the character. It is common knowledge that the Director of the movie will of course be Quentin Tarantino. However I can now reveal that, like in "Pulp Fiction", Quentin will also be appearing in the film as Keith Cluderay.

There are some great supporting actress roles for Tracey's team mates. The 2003 Leeds marathon winner Lisa Wilyman will be played by Uma Thurman while Courtney Cox-Arquette plays rising star Vicky Chapman-Whitehead.

With so many opportunities to wear a grubby vest it was perhaps inevitable that Bruce Willis would want a role in this picture; the producers are glad to have him on board as Tim Towler. Look out for some interesting cameo roles: Jonny Wilkinson plays himself as "The Starter" and Sir Jimmy Savile puts in an appearance as Geoff Webster.

In order to appeal more to the target audience the scriptwriters have tweaked a few details. The character of Tracey will hail from North Dakota, not North Wales, and in the Athens marathon she will win the gold medal for the USA in 2 hours 12 minutes, despite being knocked over deliberately at 25 miles by nasty British "Ice Queen" Paula Radcliffe, as portrayed by Kristin Scott-Thomas.

That's all folks!