Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:13am GMT 05/11/2006
As the star of the Harry Potter films, he is the heart-throb and role model every parent wants for a child. But now Daniel Radcliffe, 17, has sparked the first great parental dilemma of 2007.
Should they allow their children to see the young star perform some of the most explicit nude scenes ever staged when he hits the West End in February?
David Pugh, the producer of a new production of Peter Shaffer's Equus, which stars a fully naked Radcliffe, has insisted he will not ban children from any of the performances.
The lack of a ban is likely to prove highly controversial and is in stark contrast to the policy adopted by other theatres in the West End.
Children under the age of seven are discouraged from attending performances of Mary Poppins for fear it is too frightening.
Mr Pugh told The Sunday -Telegraph: "We will offer parental guidance and we will point out that some scenes in Equus are unsuitable for children. But there will not be a ban on them attending the performance. Every child is different and they will react to the play differently.
"I am not going to start playing the game where I say you can't come because you are 11 or you can't come because you are 14.
"Who the hell am I to start saying that?
"I saw the play at 14 and it changed my life. If I hadn't seen it I wouldn't be producing it now."
Equus, which had its premiere at the National Theatre in 1973, is one of the most controversial and acclaimed works in the English language. It charts the relationship between Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist, who will be played by Radcliffe's Harry Potter co-star Richard Griffiths, and Alan Strang, a disturbed teenager who is referred to him after blinding a horse with a metal spike.
Over the course of the drama the psychiatrist carries out interviews with the patient and his family to try to find a motive for the crime.
At the heart of the story is Strang's obsessive and very physical relationship with a horse called Nugget. In one scene, a naked Strang kneels before the horse as an act of worship. In another, he is clearly sexually aroused by the act of riding the animal.
"The nudity and those scenes are an essential part of the story," said Mr Pugh. "We are not doing it as an excuse to show Harry Potter's willy.
"Daniel is fully committed to the role and he has not asked for any special favours."
Radcliffe has lost no time in promoting the play among his huge army of fans. The star's discussion forum on his official website is awash with messages from fans wondering if they will be able to go.
One 13-year-old girl wondered what Radcliffe will be like naked, but her message was soon removed by the website adjudicator. A 15-year-old girl doubts she will able to see the play but is buttering up her mother just in case, while a 14-year-old says she will be happy to see anything as long as the horses don't get hurt.
The production, which opens at the Gielgud Theatre, is expected to be one of the biggest non-musical money-makers of recent years.
The box office was last night quoting £48.75 for all its stall seats.
Shaffer, who has resisted previous efforts to revive the play in the West End, agreed to back the revival after Radcliffe agreed to a private performance for the playwright at the Old Vic.
"It wasn't a question of finding a play for Daniel to do because we knew it would be a hit," said Mr Pugh.
"I have been wanting to do a production of Equus for eight years and the problem has always been finding the right boy.
"When Daniel performed for us at the workshop we couldn't take our eyes off him."*
*bolding mine ~ Leela.