Andrew Davies resisted “sexing-up” BBC One’s A Suitable Boy adaptation

The British screenwriter said that Vikram Seth's 1,349 novel about 1950s India was surprisingly "easy" to adapt.

A Suitable Boy, Maan

Television scribe Andrew Davies has a reputation for “sexing-up” literary classics (who could forget Colin Firth emerging from the lake in Pride and Prejudice?).

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The War & Peace screenwriter once famously declared that wherever possible, he inserts a bath scene into a televised adaptation – but when it comes to his upcoming project A Suitable Boy, based on Vikram Seth’s bestseller of the same name, he has apparently resisted that urge.

Speaking exclusively to Radio Times, he said, “I did and I must get back to doing that [inserting bath scenes]. Did I put one into A Suitable Boy? Not quite, no.

“I think there are probably some bath scenes in Rabbit [his next big series is a 12-part adaptation of John Updike’s five-book series chronicling American life].”

A Suitable Boy
Andrew Davies (far right) with cast and crew on A Suitable Boy
BBC Pictures

Seth’s novel is well over 1,000-pages long, but Davies said that the book was in many ways “easy” to adapt, given its ready-made dialogue and compelling characters.

“A Suitable Boy was very easy in those terms. I didn’t have to work hard on the characters. There they were, and they were lovely. I didn’t have to work hard on the dialogue – it was so beautiful.”

An all-Indian cast was hired to portray Seth’s characters, including Bollywood legend Tabu as the enigmatic courtesan Saeeda Bai.

However, the BBC has since faced some criticism for hiring Davies, a white Welshman, to adapt the classic Indian tome over an Indian screenwriter.

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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. 
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