STAR­RING: Olivia Cooke

WHO - - The List -

Former Monty Python-er Michael Palin heads up a best-of-bri­tish cast as Wil­liam Make­peace Thack­eray, the au­thor of the mid-19th cen­tury novel on which this cheeky, cheery adap­ta­tion is based. He in­tro­duces the story of op­ti­mistic but im­pov­er­ished school teacher Becky Sharp (Cooke), who has high hopes of a bet­ter fu­ture and sets out to en­snare a rich hus­band. But poor Becky’s care­ful plot­ting is oft thwarted. As Palin (as Thack­eray) says, Van­ity Fair is “a world where ev­ery­one is striv­ing for what is not worth hav­ing.” He could just as eas­ily be speak­ing of 2018 as 1818. (Starts Thurs., Oct. 11 at 8.30pm; BBC First)

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