Tess Of The D'Urbervilles launches Autumn drama on BBC – episode one, Sunday 14 September 2008, 9.00pm, BBC One
Gemma Arterton (James Bond: Quantum Of Solace, St Trinian's) stars as Tess, the spirited heroine, in the new four part adaptation of Thomas Hardy's immortal work from BBC Drama Productions for BBC One.
Hans Matheson (The Virgin Queen, Dr Zhivago) plays her nemesis, the arrogant Alec D’Urberville, who seduces her and Eddie Redmayne (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Savage Grace) is Angel Clare whom she falls in love with and marries.
Written by David Nicholls (Starter For Ten, Cold Feet, Much Ado About Nothing), produced by David Snodin (Great Expectations, Crime And Punishment) and directed by David Blair (The Street, The Lakes, Anna Karenina), this new adaptation of Hardy's complex, profound and heart-breaking novel, also features Jodie Whittaker (Venus) as her best friend Izzy, Ruth Jones (Gavin And Stacey, Little Dorrit) as her mother Joan, and Anna Massey (Oliver Twist, The Importance Of Being Earnest) as Mrs D'Urberville.
Kate Harwood, Executive Producer and Controller, Series and Serials for BBC Drama Productions, says: "Arguably Thomas Hardy is the most neglected of our great literary authors, so I'm delighted with the new BBC adaptation of his renowned classic tale of Tess Of The D'Urbervilles.
"Hardy's novel explores love, betrayal and the emotional burden of secrets locked away at the heart of a passionate, loving relationship which, when unlocked, implode with heart-breaking consequences.
"David Nicholls's adaptation brings Hardy's heroine, Tess, to life with verve, passion and sensitivity."
Originally titled Tess Of The D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, Hardy's novel was serialised in The Graphic during 1891 – albeit in censored form as its challenge to the sexual attitudes of the day was considered too overt for general consumption.
When Tess's drunken father discovers their family can trace their ancestry back to Norman nobility, Tess's unhappy fate is set in motion as a train of events is unleashed.
Exceptionally beautiful, Tess is given a place with her supposed noble kinsmen and is seduced and raped by the son of the family, Alec D'Urberville.
She returns home and gives birth to a sickly boy who soon dies. Trying to rebuild her life, Tess is employed as a milkmaid and meets Angel Clare.
They fall in love and Angel proposes.
Scared of losing him, she can't face telling him about her past, but on their wedding night Angel confesses a previous affair, so Tess, convinced that he will now forgive her, owns up about her own relationship with Alec – with tragic consequences.
Tess Of The D'Urbervilles was commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction.
It was filmed on location in Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Dorset in Spring 2008.
Viewers can catch up on missed episodes of Tess Of The D’Urbervilles at any time during the series, using the new series stacking function on BBC iPlayer.
Rather than individual episodes only being available for seven days, series stacking means you can now view throughout the whole time Tess Of The D’Urbervilles is on air.
Tess Of The D’Urbervilles is also being shown on BBC HD – the BBC's high definition channel available through Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.
With up to five times more detail than standard definition television, HD gives exceptionally vivid colours and crisp pictures to make Tess Of The d’Urbervilles a truly cinematic TV experience.