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All-star cast announced for ‘Jamaica Inn’


BBC One and Origin Pictures have announced the cast for Emma Frost‘s new 3-part adaptation of Jamaica Inn, based on the Daphne du Maurier gothic novel.

Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey, Labyrinth) will star as Mary Yellan, Matthew McNulty (The Paradise, Room At The Top) as Jem Merlyn, Sean Harris (The Borgias, Southcliffe) as Joss Merlyn, Ben Daniels (Wiper’s Times, House Of Cards) as Davey, Joanne Whalley (The Borgias, Gossip Girl) as Aunt Patience and Shirley Henderson (Southcliffe, The Crimson Petal And The White).

Emma Frost (The White Queen), writer, said: “I love Daphne du Maurier’s novels and it’s been a lifelong dream to adapt Jamaica Inn. I hope I have done justice to this wonderful tale of morality, survival and desire. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to adapt it for the screen, and I’m tremendously excited to see how our talented cast and director bring the scripts to life.”

Set in 1820 against the forbidding backdrop of windswept Cornish moors, the story follows the journey of young and spirited Mary (Brown Findlay) who is forced to live with her Aunt Patience (Whalley) after the death of her mother. Mary arrives at the isolated Jamaica Inn to discover her Aunt is a shell of the carefree woman she remembers from her childhood, and instead finds a drudge who is firmly under the spell of her domineering husband Joss (Harris).

The Inn has no guests – the rooms are locked and kept for storage – but it soon becomes clear that it’s a cover, as Joss is the leader of a smuggling ring, and Jamaica Inn the hub of his ‘free’ trade.

As Mary gets drawn into the dangerous world of smuggling, she finds herself attracted to Jem Merlyn (McNulty), Joss’s roughly handsome younger brother. But he stands for everything that Mary despises and worse, she fears that he’s involved in Joss’s gang. Mary’s morals and loyalties become deeply conflicted. Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself?

Seeking guidance, Mary visits the parish vicar, Francis Davey (Daniels), and his sister Hannah (Henderson). But can they help her to navigate this dangerous new world and do the right thing, or will she lose herself in everybody else’s criminality? When Mary finds herself in peril for her own life, she is tested to the core and she’s forced to find out what she’s really made of.

BAFTA-winning director Philippa Lowthorpe (Call The Midwife, Five Daughters) added: “I love Jamaica Inn because it is an exhilarating adventure story set in a wild landscape with brilliant characters, and at its heart is Mary Yellan – a fantastic female heroine.  I am delighted that Jessica Brown Findlay is going to play this bold and opinionated, courageous but naive young woman, whose curiosity and fiery nature get her into big trouble. To have Jessica, along with such talented actors as Sean Harris, Joanne Whalley and Matthew McNulty – it’s my dream cast.”

David Thompson, producer for Origin Pictures, said: “We are delighted to be bringing du Maurier’s much-loved novel to the screen. This will be a striking and thrilling period drama, which we believe will delight not only du Maurier lovers but a wide audience. We are particularly excited by the wonderful cast that has been assembled, which will bring real vitality to this powerful story.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, commented: “I’m confident that this exciting young cast will bring this classic story to the screen for a whole new generation of audiences.”

The executive producers for Origin Pictures are Ed Rubin and Hilary Heath and the producers are David Thompson and Dan Winch. The executive producer for the BBC is Sarah Stack. The executive producer for Screen Yorkshire is Hugo Heppell.

Jamaica Inn begins filming this week on location in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria.