Armando Iannucci to make movie adaptation of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield

The Veep andThe Thick of It showrunner is tackling his first ever period drama for BBC Films

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Armando Iannucci is working on a feature film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield.

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The Veep and The Thick of It and creator is teaming up with writing colleague Simon Blackwell on the BBC Films project which the Corporation says could be released in cinemas as early as 2016.

The novel centres on the adventures of the eponymous hero, following him from childhood to maturity and is considered the most autobiographical of Dickens’ works.

“Armando and Simon have been talking about this for a long time and they know a lot about Dickens and it’s really exciting for us,” BBC head of films Christine Langan told RadioTimes.com

“It’s going to be very authentic and will use a lot of the language and Dickens’ own dialogue,” she added.

Iannucci, who also has hopes to write for Doctor Who, is a big fan of Dickens’ work, especially David Copperfield. In 2013 he presented Armando’s Tale of Charles Dickens, a personal celebration of the novelist through the prism of the 1850 novel.

BBC Films also revealed that The Shadow Line star Rafe Spall is to star in a new film version of Arthur Ransome’s much-loved children’s story Swallows and Amazons.

He will play the friendly adult Captain Flint in the movie which follows a group of children on adventures set between the two World Wars.

“This will be faithful to the novel but also appeal to a contemporary audience, it will be exciting and kinetic,” Langan added.

Meanwhile, Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) will direct an adaptation of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Sense of an Ending.

The adaptation is the debut screenplay of award-winning playwright Nick Payne, whose play ‘Constellations’ has recently been on Broadway starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It tells the story of Tony Webster, whose comfortable world is rocked to its foundations by the emergence of an explosive letter from his careless youth.

Also in the pipeline are factual films following the careers of jockey AP McCoy, singer Grace Jones and ballet dancer Sergei Polunin.

Launching the slate at a party to mark 25 years of BBC Films, Langan said: “We’re so proud to celebrate 25 years of flying the flag for British film. Since our first production, Anthony Minghella’s unique Truly Madly Deeply, BBC Films has played a vital role in finding and nurturing the British talent at the heart of so many successful films. BBC Films stands not just for great British talent, but amazing British stories.” 

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Tony Hall, BBC director-general, added: “BBC Films represents everything I love about the BBC. What started as just a small part of our drama department 25 years ago has grown into a creative powerhouse recognised the world over. The money we put in goes a very long way – every £1 attracts around £5 more of investment to produce British films that otherwise wouldn’t be made. That’s a great achievement.”