Fresh off the success of the finale of the BBC’s six-part adaptation of War and Peace, producer Harvey Weinstein and scribe Andrew Davies are plotting another project together. Davies told The Telegraph that he and Weinstein want to work with the BBC on a (non-musical) adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables.
War and Peace was, unsurprisingly, a huge success averaging 6-7 million viewers per episode, despite complaints about costuming, historical inaccuracy, the brief length of the adaptation, male nudity, incest and sex. Actually that all makes it sound rather more scandalous than it was. The sexual aspects were tastefully done, as we would expect from the 79 year-old Andrew Davies, a legend in the classics genre.
At age 12, Harvey Weinstein’s neighbour, a librarian, gave him a copy of War and Peace to read when he was recuperating from an accident at home. Weinstein told Deadline that War and Peace was his favourite novel, calling it his “great triumph” to have read the novel at a young age. He is hoping that the series will see a renewed interest in the novel, saying: “I think we will see schools put it on their curriculum. I think this will inspire a whole new generation.”
Andrew Davies’ very long list of credits includes adaptations of novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Thackeray, Daniel Defoe, Elizabeth Gaskell, Boris Pasternak and John Cleland. He also wrote the original House of Cards and the wonderful Mr. Selfridge, which is just airing its fourth and final season.
For Davies, Les Miserables seems a fitting follow-up to War and Peace.
“It’s another big epic story and I thinking people will be surprised that there is so much more to it than they maybe realise,” he told The Telegraph.
“It’s an immensely powerful story about appalling levels of poverty and deprivation and how people transcend it, it’s about redemption and revenge and the extraordinary relationship between Jean Valjean and a little girl he brings up. The pursuit of Javert, the indomitable detective who lets it get personal is classic film noir.”
Davies has not started on a script, but has mapped out what he wants to do with the story, which will definitely have no songs. Davies said he is not a fan of the musical versions, stage or film. He would also like to fill the coveted Sunday night time-slot on the BBC.
“Harvey Weinstein said we could do this with or without the BBC,” he said. “There are so many places you can go these days. But I would always want to be on the BBC on a Sunday night. It’s my absolute favourite place to be.
“They would be silly not to go for it but they might think it’s been done too many times. Weinstein is keen to co-produce which means bringing in a huge chunk of American money, which is key as it needs to be done well.”
Let’s hope this is the beginning of an epic relationship between The Weinstein Company and the BBC.