The BBC goes back to the original novel for this ambitious adaptation. Just don’t expect any songs
It’s easy to forget that before anyone belted out “I dreamed a dream” in the stage musical, Les Misérables was a gargantuan 19th-century novel about class warfare and French revolutionaries. So despite being adapted five times on film (most recently in 1998 with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush), and twice on television, the BBC’S decision to go with Victor Hugo’s book as the subject of its next flagship period drama adaptation is surprisingly exciting. Not least because the cast features Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Olivia Colman.
An even bigger attraction is that master scriptwriter Andrew Davies is on board. Davies, now 81, has been turning unwieldy old novels into sexy primetime television for nearly 25 years, most famously with his sexed-up Pride And Prejudice starring a young Colin Firth in 1995. More recently, in 2016, Davies successfully dug deep into the core of Tolstoy’s War And Peace for the BBC. Davies describes Hugo’s Les Mis as “intense and gut-wrenching” and when we visited the set outside Brussels earlier this year, we observed some gruellingly emotional scenes, directed by Tom Shankland, whose credits include outstanding episodes of classics House Of Cards and The Leftovers. Shankland, unusually for this kind of BBC six-parter, is directing the whole show.
With this level of writing, acting and directing talent, this Les Misérables is going to be Les Unmissables…
The girls were jealous they didn’t get to wear a fancy velvet coat as well.