Monday 14 February 2011, 11:22
Historically television has tended to focus on the relationship between the author and their work. This has always worked well - think of Bookmark, Arena, and Omnibus - and is a very accessible way into literature.
From the outset, we wanted to do something different and came up with an unusual and original approach: to focus on the characters.
By looking at these characters we get a better understanding of how our ideas about heroism, love, snobbishness and evil have been shaped.
Faulks On Fiction is an exploration of the connection between characters in the novel and how they are shaped by their times, and how they have shaped us.
By choosing an author to present the series we get a privileged perspective from a real practitioner.
We were very lucky to have Sebastian Faulks on board to front the series - a successful and highly regarded novelist, who has created some memorable characters of his own.
Novels exist mainly in the mind's eye, so how best to illustrate the series?
And Sebastian talked to others, ranging from other novelists like Monica Ali and Helen Fielding, to poets such as Simon Armitage and philosophers such as Alain de Botton, who were passionate about these fictional characters too.
There were even people who could throw light on a character because they had been in a similar situation, like the former hostage Brian Keenan, who spoke thoughtfully about Robinson Crusoe.
We decided to use both readings and adaptations to illustrate the text.
For many people, adaptations on the small or big screen can be their first encounter with a particular character.
We wanted to harness that by reflecting some of the wonderful characters stored in the BBC's rich archive of dramatisations.
One of the main intentions of making a television programme about novels is not to distract from the act of reading the novel itself but to complement and even encourage it.
The greatest accolade for any programme-maker is to hear that someone has decided to re-read or read for the first time one of these classic texts.
I hope you will go away from Faulks On Fiction inspired to do just that, and that you are encouraged to explore Books On The BBC - a year of books-related programmes across BBC television, radio and online.
Mary Sackville-West is the series producer of Faulks On Fiction.
For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.
Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.
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