In Depth

Les Miserables to become BBC TV series

Six-part adaptation will star Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins and Olivia Colman

Les Miserables is coming to the small screen as a BBC drama with an all-star British cast.

The six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel will star The Wire actor Dominic West as chain gang fugitive Jean Valjean, while Selma star David Oyelowo will play his nemesis, fanatical police inspector Javert.

Actor and model Lily Collins has been cast as tragic factory worker Fantine, while Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Colman will play venal innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, the Radio Times reports.

Ellie Bamber will play Valjean’s adopted daughter, Cosette, with Bafta Rising Star nominee Josh O’Connor as her love interest, Marius. Newcomer Erin Kellyman completes the love triangle as Eponine.

The cast is “striking in its diversity” says The Daily Telegraph, in keeping with the BBC’s drive to ensure that at least 15% of its roles go to black and minority ethnic actors by 2020.

The script will be penned by period drama veteran Andrew Davies, whose previous credits include celebrated adaptations of War and Peace, Little Dorrit, and Pride and Prejudice.

"To play an iconic role like Javert is any actor's dream,” Oyelowo told the BBC, “but to play it as written by Andrew Davies goes beyond my wildest dreams."

Filming will begin in February at locations in France and Belgium, the BBC reports.

The adaptation, which has been in the works since 2016, was originally to be a co-production with The Weinstein Company, Deadline reports. After a barrage of sexual abuse allegations against chairman Harvey Weinstein, the BBC cut ties with the company.

The series will now be produced as a collaboration between BBC Studios, Lookout Point and BBC Worldwide.

Hugo’s tome, set in Paris in the years leading up to the failed revolution of 1832, is best known to modern audiences as a stage musical, which opened in London in 1985 and has played continuously in the West End ever since.

In 2012, a film version of the musical starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe  Javert. Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for her gritty performance as downtrodden factory worker Fantine 

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