A Suitable Boy author Vikram Seth initially dismissed ideas of BBC adaptation

The author initially ignored the BBC when it got in touch about an idea for a TV adaptation.

A Suitable Boy

The sheer scale of Vikram Seth’s 1,349-page novel A Suitable Boy may pose a challenge when it comes to adaptations – but it seems the main issue the BBC faced when they began looking at a TV series wasn’t the book itself: it was the author.

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Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Vikram Seth revealed that he had initially “ignored” the BBC when they first contacted him about a potential TV show.

He said: “I ignored Lookout Point (the production company) and the BBC (who said they wanted to programme it) for months after they approached me. I just thought it would be one of those innumerable projects that never see the light of day. For me, as a writer, it would simply be time-wasting, distracting noise.”

He added that at the time he was working on his (as-yet unpublished sequel): “Almost 30 years after writing A Suitable Boy, I was now immersed in A Suitable Girl. I was not going to let Boy strangle Girl.”

He continued: “When I next happened to be in London, I somewhat reluctantly agreed to a quick pre-work meeting at my place with a couple of people from Lookout Point. Once I talked to them, I realised that even without my involvement, they had in fact lined up lots and lots of ducks in a row. There were only two or three ducks missing – the largest missing duck, of course, was me. They were very serious about the project and their enthusiasm was infectious.

“I put Girl on the back-burner and we had a number of meetings about Boy over the next few days. Everything was signed and sealed in a matter of weeks.”

The resulting six-part series, airing on BBC One and Netflix, stars Tanya Maniktala as the book’s protagonist: Lata Mehra, a university student living in 1950s North India.

Maniktala spoke to RadioTimes.com and other press about Seth’s visits to the show’s set: “He [Vikram Seth] was so happy with how things were going! So that was great. We did always go to him whenever we thought that maybe we could ask for a little more detail on what he thought about, what his thinking process was while writing that particular scene, or that character.

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“He was always so helpful, and he was on set – like, not all the time, but he did come often, and he was involved with all of the processes, he’d be so enthused with what’s going on, so it’s great.”

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A Suitable Boy begins BBC One on Sunday, 26th July at 9pm for UK and Irish viewers, and will be available on Netflix internationally. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.
If you want to read A Suitable Boy, buy a copy on Amazon now.