Miss Austen Regrets
Sunday 27th April 2008, 8pm, BBC One
Despite setting the standard for romantic fiction, Jane Austen never met her own Mr Darcy. Based on her life and letters, Miss Austen Regrets tells the story of the novelist's final years.
Approaching her fortieth birthday, Jane appears happily unmarried and displays all the assured wit and charm of her novels' young heroines. Yet when asked to vet potential husbands by her young niece, Fanny, Jane's confident composure is threatened. She finds herself looking back on her own potential suitors and the choices she has made.
Writer Gwyneth Hughes feels that she cannot claim sole credit for the drama, "The script is very tightly based on Austen's surviving letters to her sister and to her young niece, Fanny. So I must share the credit for quite a lot of the dialogue with Miss Austen herself!
"And I must say, it's been a strange and humbling experience to feel this genius of English literature peering critically over my shoulder as I write. But I have loved every moment in her company."
Gwyneth goes on to say, "Everyone knows Jane Austen never married. For her millions of fans this can only be a relief, because it's hard to see how a 19th century wife and mother could have found time to write her six wonderful novels! All the same, you do wonder whether she minded - how this spinster lady felt about the absence of a real Mr Darcy in her life."
"And then I read the most extraordinary fact. Jane Austen did receive a proposal of marriage from a wealthy young neighbour. And she accepted! She actually said yes to him - until after a long night of discussion with her sister Cassandra, she changed her mind. This intriguing decision inspired the story of Miss Austen Regrets."
Olivia Williams stars as Austen, Greta Scacchi is Jane's sister and confidante Cassandra, Imogen Poots plays her niece Fanny and Phyllida Law plays Mrs Austen.
Miss Austen Regrets is a BBC Films/WGBH co-production.
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