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Poldark producers to adapt Pride and Prejudice for ITV

Production company Mammoth Screen plans to tease out the “darker tones” of Jane Austen’s classic novel in a new ITV adaptation written by Nina Raine
By Ben Dowell

Poldark producers Mammoth Screen are developing a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for ITV, RadioTimes.com can reveal.

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There have been five UK television adaptations of Jane Austen's much-loved book about the Bennet sisters' search for love so far. Until now, all have been made by the BBC.

The producer, which also makes ITV smash hit Victoria starring Jenna Coleman, has commissioned acclaimed playwright Nina Raine – author of 2017 hit National Theatre play Consent – to adapt the classic novel, in a version that will aim to tease out the story’s “darker tones” according to Mammoth Screen. This will be Raine's first TV adaptation.

"Pride and Prejudice is actually a very adult book, much less bonnet-y than people assume," Raine said of the project. "I hope I do justice to Austen’s dark intelligence – sparkling, yes, but sparkling like granite.”

The dates and cast for the production and broadcast are still to be confirmed, but there is a chance the new version could air in 2020, 25 years since Colin Firth's Darcy emerged dripping from that lake in Pemberley and sent hearts fluttering across Britain.

Whatever the timing, the producers are intent on making this the definitive adaptation for the 21st century. 

Mammoth managing director Damien Timmer said, “In this age of the box set – with audiences loving to binge on complex, serialised dramas – it feels absolutely right to reassess the great classics. Every generation needs its own adaptation of this perfect novel.

“Nina Raine is one of the most gifted writers working today, and her wit and emotional intelligence make her the perfect match for Jane Austen. She’s a devoted fan of the book, but she’s never seen any previous adaptations – so pleasingly the novel only exists in her imagination”.

Mammoth Screen is hoping Pride and Prejudice will follow in the footsteps of Vanity Fair, which it starts filming for ITV next month in Hungary and locations throughout England. The cast includes Oldham born rising Hollywood star Olivia Cooke as Becky Sharp and Tom Bateman as Rawdon Crawley.

Forthcoming Mammoth adaptations include China Miéville's 2009 noir thriller The City and the City adapted by Tony Grisoni and starring David Morrissey for BBC2.

The company is also making a fourth series of Poldark for BBC1, and a major new series based on Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, a story of interracial first love in a dangerous fictional dystopia.

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It is also making HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds for BBC1 and Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence, starring Bill Nighy and adapted by Sarah Phelps.

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