OSCAR-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy has spoken of the challenges of writing star-studded BBC miniseries Trust.

Beaufoy, who grew up in Glusburn, created Trust, based on the true-life kidnapping of the heir to billionaire John Paul Getty.

The ten-part series, starring acting legend Donald Sutherland as oil tycoon and art collector J Paul Getty Senior, began last week on BBC Two.

Beaufoy, who spent three years on the project, wrote for a cast that also includes Hilary Swank, Brendan Fraser and Anna Chancellor.

Trust opens in 1973 with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, heir to the Getty fortune, in Rome.

His captors bank on a multi-million-dollar ransom. After all, what rich family wouldn’t pay for the safe return of a loved one?

However, back in England Paul’s wealthy grandfather, an enigmatic oil tycoon surrounded by a harem of mistresses and a pet lion, refuses to pay up.

With Paul’s father lost in a drug-induced daze in London, refusing to answer the phone, it is left to Paul’s mother - the penniless Gail Getty – to negotiate with both the increasingly desperate kidnappers and her stubborn former father-in-law to save her son.

Inspired by actual events, Beaufoy explored the trials and triumphs of one of America’s wealthiest and unhappiest families.

His mixes family history, dynastic saga, an examination of the corrosive power of money, and the complexities at the heart of every family, rich or poor.

The project, Beaufoy teamed up with renowned film director Danny Boyle, who recently walked away from directing the latest James Bond movie.

Simon said: “Trust was two years in the writing and making but probably three years from when I first read an article on it and thought it was interesting. Then the more involved I got the more it became an extraordinary dark tale of some very rich and crazy people.

“It revolves around the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, which is the big one that everyone knows about.

“What they don’t know is that there were three generations of Gettys involved in this saga; the kidnapping is a way into the story of the richest people in the world.

“John Paul Getty was the world’s first billionaire and it’s a story about the lack of love that he had cascading down the generations from one generation of Gettys to the next, and how it all culminated in this terrible event when his grandson was kidnapped.

Beaufoy said he had relished the chance to write a series for television, with screen time to fully explore the story, away from the “narrative motorway” of two-hour movies.

He said: “In this, you’ve got hours to stop the story dead and go sideways. We spend an episode looking at the kidnappers and how they thought and felt about what they have done, working out what the hell they are going to do with this kid if no-one wants him.”

Beaufoy enjoyed the chance to visit Rome during his research, and the luxury of writing around characters and events that would not be believed in a fictional work.

He said: “You wouldn’t dare make up a story about a man living in Sutton Place with a harem of women with a payphone and a pet lion!

“But there it all was. His son was stuck in this strange house by the side of the Thames for five years with his curtains drawn, not coming out apart from to find his next hit of heroin.

“They are all multi-millionaires on paper but they are all scrabbling to find cash, or kidnapping themselves.”

Trust is screened on BBC Two on Wednesdays at 9pm.