The Radio Times logo

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
BBC Pictures
Published: Monday, 20th July 2020 at 9:00 pm

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?).


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.

For the biggest interviews and the best TV listings subscribe to Radio Times now and never miss a copy. 
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.


Sponsored content