Home TV News BBC Picks Up ‘Miss Austen’ starring Keeley Hawes and Rose Leslie

BBC Picks Up ‘Miss Austen’ starring Keeley Hawes and Rose Leslie

A star-studded production of Gill Hornby’s best-selling and much-loved novel

by Dave Elliott

The BBC has acquired the UK broadcast rights to Miss Austen, a star-studded adaptation of Gill Hornby’s best-selling and much-loved novel, with Keeley Hawes and Rose Leslie in the leading roles.

‘Miss Austen’ takes a literary mystery – Cassandra Austen notoriously burning her famous sister Jane’s letters – and reimagines it as a fascinating, witty and heart-breaking story of sisterly love, while creating in Cassandra a character as captivating as any Austen heroine.

The drama begins in 1830, a while after Jane has died. Cassandra (Keeley Hawes – It’s A Sin, Bodyguard, Line of Duty) races to see her young friend Isabella (Rose Leslie – Game of Thrones, Vigil) who is about to lose her home following her father’s death. Cassandra is ostensibly there to help her friend, but her real motive is to find a stash of private letters which, in the wrong hands, could destroy Jane’s reputation. On discovering them, Cassandra is overwhelmed as she is transported back to her youth.

In flashback, we meet Young Cassy and Jane (Patsy Ferran – ‘Jamestown’, ‘Black Narcissus’) as they navigate the infatuations, family feuds and dashed hopes which shaped their lives and laid the foundations for Jane’s unforgettable stories. Cassandra’s re-evaluation of her past eventually leads her to realise how blind she has been to the real cause of Isabella’s heartache and distress. Finding a way to guide Isabella towards true happiness, Cassandra is finally able to understand and celebrate the sacrifices she chose to make for her brilliant sister, Jane.

L-R: Keeley Hawes (Image: Rankin), Rose Leslie (Image: Alex Bramble), Patsy Ferran, Jessica Hynes (Image: Rachell Smith), Mirren Mack (Image: Iona Wolff), Phyllis Logan (Image: Viktoria Kuti), Kevin McNally, Max Irons, Alfred Enoch, Calam Lynch and Liv Hill.

Alongside Hawes, Leslie and Ferran, the adaptation, from BAFTA-winning writer Andrea Gibb (Elizabeth is Missing, Mayflies), will star Jessica Hynes (Life After Life, Years and Years), Mirren Mack (The Witcher: Blood Origin, The Nest), Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey, Shetland), Kevin McNally (The Crown, Ten Percent), Max Irons (Condor, The Wife), Alfred Enoch (How to Get Away with Murder, Foundation), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton, Archie) and Liv Hill (The Serpent Queen, Elizabeth Is Missing).

The four-part drama, directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Aisling Walsh (Maudie, Elizabeth is Missing) started filming last month in the UK, is produced by Stella Merz (Gentleman Jack, Renegade Nell), and is produced by Bonnie Productions for MASTERPIECE in the US.

“To have this hugely entertaining female-driven story told by such a stellar cast, led by Keeley Hawes, as Bonnie Productions’ first drama is genuinely a dream come true,” said Christine Langan, executive producer. “Gill Hornby has found an ingenious way into the Austen world, creating female characters modern audiences can empathise with and delight in. I’m so honoured to be bringing this wonderful novel to the screen in collaboration with the deeply talented trio of writer, Andrea Gibb, director, Aisling Walsh and producer, Stella Merz.”

‘Miss Austen’ is a co-production of Bonnie Productions and MASTERPIECE, in association with the BBC and Federation Stories. The executive producers are Christine Langan for Bonnie Productions, Susanne Simpson for MASTERPIECE and Polly Williams for Federation Stories. Keeley Hawes, Andrea Gibb and Aisling Walsh are also executive producers.

“Miss Austen is the perfect blend of intriguing mystery, vivid and engaging characters and beguiling period charm – BBC viewers certainly have a treat in store,” adds Sue Deeks, Head of BBC Programme Acquisition.

Miss Austen‘ does not have a premiere date yet, but will air on the BBC in the UK and on MASTERPIECE in the USA. If you want to keep track of this or any other show, you can add them via our Never Miss system, and you’ll be notified when it gets a UK premiere date.

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