Jack Whitehall, David Suchet and Eva Longoria lead BBC Two comedy Decline And Fall

Evelyn Waugh story makes TV debut with an all-star cast.

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Jack Whitehall (Bad Education), David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) and Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful) are to star in BBC Two’s three-part comedy adaptation, Decline And Fall.

Based on the Evelyn Waugh novel and adapted for television for the first time by James Wood (Rev), Decline And Fall is described as one of the greatest comic novels of all time.

Decline And Fall sees Paul Pennyfeather (Whitehall) as an inoffensive divinity student at Oxford University in the 1920s, who is wrongly dismissed for indecent exposure having been made the victim of a prank by The Bollinger Club.

David Suchet will play Dr Fagan, the headmaster of Llanabba, an obscure public school in Wales where Paul first finds employment and works with fellow teacher Grimes (Hodge). It is at the school that he meets the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde (Longoria), who is the mother of one of the pupils.

For Paul it is love at first sight, but little does he know the surprises that lie ahead of him when he agrees to tutor her son over the summer holidays.

Jack Whitehall says: “I am extremely pleased to be a part of this amazing adaptation by James Wood. I’ve been a fan of this book since I read it as a teenager, and I just hope that I can do it justice.”

Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “One of the greatest comic novels of all time, this satirical masterpiece is long overdue a television debut. Waugh deploys comedy and tragedy to point up prevailing institutional corruption and the dehumanising consequences of elitism, very timely and apposite for today. James has done a terrific job of getting to the core of it, and the writing has attracted a fantastic cast.”

Decline And Fall will air later in the year marking 50 years since Waugh’s death.