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War and Peace screenwriter reimagines Les Misérables

BBC One has announced a new six-part landmark drama adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s Les Misérables by screenwriter Andrew Davies (War and Peace).

Best known for its long-running musical adaptation, the 19th century classic is widely regarded as one of the greatest books ever written.

Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former convict unable to escape the shadow of his past life, and his relentless pursuit by the chilling police officer Javert.

The new adaptation will delve deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest. With a striking intensity and relevance to us today, the novel is testimony to the struggles of France’s underclass and how far they must go to survive.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “Andrew Davies’ extraordinary skill for adaptation will bring the world-famous Les Misérables into powerful focus for a modern audience, with a multi-layered re-telling of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. BBC One viewers can expect the same quality and scale from the team behind War and Peace in this epic tale of redemption and the healing power of love.”

Andrew Davies says: “Les Misérables is a huge, iconic title. Most of us are familiar with the musical version, which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story. I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last by adapting his masterpiece in a six-hour version for the BBC, with the same team who made War and Peace.”

Harvey Weinstein, Weinstein Television, says: “Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is one of the greatest novels of all time – and while the musical is one of my favorites this will be completely different. An intense and serious drama that will find contemporary relevance to what’s going on in the world today. I’m thrilled to be reunited with Faith Penhale and Simon Vaughan, my partners from War and Peace, with Charlotte Moore from the BBC, and of course, with Andrew Davies who wrote War and Peace. I think the BBC and Weinstein Television collaboration are a new paradigm in the telling of classics – they’re modern and yet respectful. And, with the exception of James Bond, nobody does it better than Andrew Davies.”

Les Misérables is a BBC Studios and Lookout Point co-production for BBC One in association with Weinstein Television. Executive Producers will be Andrew Davies, Bethan Jones, Faith Penhale, Simon Vaughan and Harvey Weinstein.

Casting is yet to be announced.