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24 September 2014

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Making The Line of Beauty, page 1

The Cast

Kate Lewis, The Line of Beauty’s Producer, describes how the novel was adapted for television.

Being one of the generation of 'Thatcher's children,' I was captivated when I read Alan Hollinghurst's witty and beautifully written novel set in 1980s London. It was fascinating to look back at Thatcherism, excess, the tabloid scandals and AIDS with the perspective of the intervening years. And it's also a real page turner with richly textured characters and an ending that packs a punch.

Andrew Davies, the adaptation maestro, had suggested the novel to the BBC and was to write the screenplay. It felt daunting to be adapting such a highly regarded novel, but having worked with Andrew as a script editor numerous times, I reckoned he could pull it off if anyone could.

Alan Hollinghurst and Andrew Davies

The novel went on to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize, and I found myself rather star struck when sitting down for dinner with Alan a month later. In fact, he couldn't have been nicer. He's a courteous and modest man, softly spoken though occasionally revealing a flash of the biting wit that makes his novels so remarkable. And his enthusiasm for the project was infectious.

Andrew found the novel lent itself well to adaptation. Nick's story fitted neatly into three parts, and the detail with which Alan had drawn his characters meant that there was loads of brilliant dramatic material that Andrew could distil and shape.

Fans of the novel will notice a few changes - Nick's introduction to the house and the foregrounding of the Feddens' charming but emotionally unstable daughter - but overall it's a pretty faithful adaptation.

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