JK Rowling's 'Casual Vacancy' to become a BBC drama series

Dec 4, 2012

'Harry Potter' author's first adult book failed to impress critics, but that hasn't stopped the Beeb

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CRITICS said it was either too rude, too political or too dull, but that hasn't deterred the BBC from turning JK Rowling's best-selling novel The Casual Vacancy into a multi-million pound drama series.

The adaptation of Rowling's first novel for adults – a tale of seedy provincial life in a pretty English village called Pagford - will be shown on BBC1 in 2014, says The Guardian.

The Casual Vacancy went straight to the top of the fiction charts when it was released in September despite reviews ranging from lukewarm to excoriating.

The Guardian called it "unadventurous" while Daily Mail writer Jan Moir lambasted it as "500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto, masquerading as literature, crammed down your throat".

The negative reviews meant little in the face of the 47-year old author's reputation as the author of the Harry Potter novels. The Casual Vacancy sold 125,000 copies in its first week on the market, becoming the fastest-selling hardback in the UK for three years and the second biggest seller since records began in 1998.

The BBC has no doubt done its sums and calculated that the first readers of the first Harry Potter novel will be approaching their thirties when 'The Casual Vacancy' is aired – just the right demographic for an after-the-watershed adult drama series.

There is no word on what the BBC has paid her for the rights to Rowling's novel or on the cost of turning it into a drama series, but the Daily Mail says high quality drama usually costs "more than £700,000 an hour" to shoot in the UK.

Rowling said she had always believed television would be the best medium for an adaptation of a novel which shocked some critics with its depiction of self-harm, rape, child abuse and heroin addiction. She called the BBC "the perfect home" for the project.

The Daily Telegraph says Rowling's agent, Neil Blair, will produce the series through his own independent production company and the author "will be closely involved with the project".

Rowling is believed to be worth more than £530 million following the global success of the Harry Potter books and films. Her deal with publishers Little Brown to write books for adults is estimated at more than £5 million.

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Who the hell is Neil Blair? Anybody know what he looks like? Her partner no less? Where is he?