The BBC goes back to the orig­i­nal novel for this am­bi­tious adap­ta­tion. Just don’t ex­pect any songs

Empire (UK) - - The Watch List -

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.

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