A time of tur­moil

BBC History Magazine - - TV & Radio -

Les Misérables TV BBC One sched­uled for De­cem­ber

Lest we for­get, be­fore it was an un­likely block­buster mu­si­cal, Les Misérables was a novel that de­picted life in France in the years af­ter Napoleon’s de­feat at the bat­tle of Water­loo. It’s this source ma­te­rial – a study of re­demp­tion – to which An­drew Davies re­turns for a much-an­tic­i­pated six-part adap­ta­tion of Vic­tor Hugo’s 1862 master­piece.

Driv­ing the plot is a game of cat and mouse be­tween es­caped con­vict Jean Val­jean (Do­minic West), ar­rested for steal­ing bread to feed his sis­ter’s fam­ily, and Javert (David Oyelowo), the po­lice in­spec­tor who be­comes ob­sessed with catch­ing him. “In Val­jean, we see the ter­ri­fy­ing anger and re­sent­ment against so­ci­ety but also the ten­der­ness that is hid­den deep in his com­plex psy­che,” said An­drew Davies, “and in Javert, the fe­ro­cious ded­i­ca­tion to duty that takes him from ob­ses­sion to mad­ness.”

The cast also in­cludes Lily Collins as Fan­tine, forced into pros­ti­tu­tion, and Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Col­man as the Thé­nardiers, innkeep­ers who de­light in cheat­ing their cus­tomers. The se­ries was partly filmed on lo­ca­tion in Bel­gium and north­ern France.

Lily Collins plays Fan­tine, whose life is one of many torn asun­der in postNapoleonic France, as de­picted in the new BBC adap­ta­tion of Les Misérables

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