David Suchet and Douglas Hodge join Jack Whitehall and Eva Longoria in BBC1 comedy Decline and Fall

BBC2 has lined up a stellar cast for its adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic 1920s comedy novel

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Poirot star David Suchet and The Night Manager actor Douglas Hodge will be joining Jack Whitehall and Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria in a three-part adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic satire Decline and Fall.

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Whitehall plays the star Paul Pennyfeather, an Oxford University student in the 1920s who is unfairly sent down for indecent exposure having been made the victim of a prank by The Bollinger Club.   

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).

At the school Paul meets the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde, to be played by Eva Longoria (below). She is the mother of one of the pupils and someone Paul falls in love with at first sight.

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Whitehall said of his new role: “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.”

BBC controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen added of the series which will air later this year: “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.”

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The production will mark 50 years since Waugh’s death.