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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC Drama Production presents Jane Austen's comic masterpiece Emma for BBC One

Jane Austen's masterpiece Emma is to be adapted by award-winning writer Sandy Welch (Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, North And South) into a fresh, humorous and perceptive 4 x 60-minute serial for BBC Drama Production, for transmission on BBC One in autumn 2009.

Austen's classic comic novel follows the story of the "handsome, clever and rich" Emma Woodhouse.

Dominating the small provincial world of Highbury, Emma believes she is a skilled matchmaker and repeatedly attempts to pair up her friends and acquaintances.

Brought up sharply against the folly of her own immaturity, the consequent crisis and her bitter regrets are brought to a happy resolution in a sharp and sparkling comedy of self-deceit and self-discovery.

BAFTA-winning Welch will unfold Austen's witty and compassionate story over four hour-long episodes, providing a rich insight into one of the author's most complex characters.

Kate Harwood, Controller Series and Serials, BBC, says: "In Emma, Austen has created an intriguing heroine, and our four-hour canvas allows us to explore this multi-faceted character in detail. Emma was Austen's last novel, written when she was at the height of her craft, and we are delighted that such an esteemed writer as Sandy Welch is bringing her vision to this appealing story."

Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, explains: "BBC drama is committed to retelling classic stories for a new generation of viewers and this four-part adaptation – the first serial version of Emma since the Seventies – gives Sandy the opportunity to find new detail and added psychological depth in Austen's characters.

"2009 will also see Desperate Romantics and Small Island burst onto the screen and we believe that this offers viewers a real range of stories about our heritage."

Emma was first published in 1815. Set in Regency England it was the last Jane Austen novel to be published before the author's death in 1817, and is one of her most popular and best-loved books.

The 4 x 60-minute serial is produced by BBC Drama Production and will be filmed late spring/early summer 2009. Full casting will be announced at a later date.

Phillippa Giles (Jane Eyre, The Alan Clark Diaries, North And South) is Executive Producer with George Ormond (Silent Witness, EastEnders) producing the serialisation.

Emma was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning ,and Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One.

Notes to Editors

Austen's Emma was last adapted for television in the 1996 ITV single drama, starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong. Gwyneth Paltrow starred as Emma in an Oscar-nominated film version by Miramax in the same year.

BBC Drama Production is a world leader in producing much-loved and critically-acclaimed dramas including recent drama series Survivors, Lark Rise To Candleford, Hunter, Little Dorrit, Criminal Justice, Cranford, Waking The Dead and Silent Witness on BBC One; House Of Saddam and forthcoming Desperate Romantics on BBC Two and BBC Four's Curse Of Comedy season.


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