Actor Harry Shearer Is Nixon In Sky Arts Film

Simpsons star Harry Shearer is launching a new play based on US president Richard Nixon's private recordings, which apparently were sometimes "amazingly funny".

The actor is taking on the role as the American leader in what will be a new comedy drama called Nixon's The One for the Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series .

In the play, Shearer recreates the real-life recordings made by the disgraced president.

And while he acknowledges that Nixon had not intended to be comical, he said that listening to the tapes was "sometimes mundane but often amazingly funny".

Speaking to Sky News, Shearer told of his astonishment at the fact the tapes were made in the first place.

"This was, at the time, the most powerful man in the world," he said.

"These are working hours and he's having these conversations that are going off on all these incredible tangents, and going to all of the resentments and obsessions that bedevilled him... with all sorts of people."

Some of those who feature in the tapes include US politician Henry Kissinger who is played by British actor Henry Goodman in the 30-minute film.

Shearer and his team spent a large amount of time sifting through hundreds of hours of conversations.

He said: "The idea to tape it was his. He thought he was taping himself for the wonders of posterity and would control whatever came out and in fact as a result of Watergate these are all on the public record."

Shearer who starred in Spinal Tap and provides the voiceover for characters including Mr Burns in The Simpsons, wore layers of prosthetic make-up to become Nixon for the film.

He would rehearse the scenes while the tapes were being played to help get the intonation and inflection in his voice right.

Based on more than 198 hours of recordings made between February 1971 and 1973, the film reveals Nixon's struggle with growing public unrest over his waning popularity and key decisions made by his Cabinet.

Shearer said he teased out "certain themes and motifs that kept rolling through his (Nixon's) psyche".

The US president resigned in 1974 following the Watergate scandal.

Nixon's The One will be broadcast on Sky Arts 1 HD on April 26 at 9pm.