Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman to star in BBC’s Howards End

How will the BBC's four-part adaptation measure up to the classic 1992 movie?

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Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman will star in the long-awaited adaptation of EM Forster’s Howards End on BBC1. 

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The series originally received the green light in December 2015 and was expected to air last year. That was the last we heard of it – until today which brings us the first casting announcement for the period drama about class, conventions and high society at the turn of the century. 

Agent Carter actress Atwell will head up the cast as Margaret Schlegel with Ripper Street’s Macfadyen portraying Henry Wilcox, and comedy favourite Ullman playing Aunt Juley Mund.

Howards End introduces us to three families, who all have a different position in English society: the half-German, intellectual Schlegels, the wealthy Wilcox family, and the working-class Basts. 

The novel has previously been adapted for TV in the 1970s (featuring Glenda Jackson) and got a film version in 1992, starring Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins and Samuel West. 

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Oscar-nominated Manchester by the Sea screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan is penning the four-part TV adaptation, which will soon begin filming in London.

“I’m very proud to have been entrusted with this adaptation of Howards End for the BBC,” Lonergan previously commented.

“The book belongs to millions of readers past and present; I only have the nerve to take it on at all because of the bottomless wealth and availability of its ideas, the richness of its characters and the imperishable strain of humanity running through every scene.” 

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The drama is also set to air in the US on cable service Starz.