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Andrew Davies adapting Les Misérables for BBC

Les Miserables

Story by Jack Foley

ANDREW Davies, who adapted the critically acclaimed War & Peace for the BBC, will next turn his hand to a small screen version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

However, his take on the classic story will be a straight adaptation of the source material that won’t really include songs.

The screenwriter made the revelation at the Hay Festival, in which he also delivered a frank – and none too complimentary – assessment of the musical version of the book and the film, directed by Tom Hooper that saw Anne Hathaway win an Oscar.

“Nobody sings,” he said, before adding: “Well, they might sing the odd song but they don’t yell great things like they do in the musical.”

When pressed on whether the adaptation of the book would come too close to Hooper’s movie for audiences to respond to, he continued: “It’s quite a few years and I have a dreadful memory of the musical and for people who think that’s all there is. I thought it’s important that people realise there is a lot more to Les Misérables than that sort of shoddy farrago. The book needs a bit of a champion.”

Davies, whose other adapting work includes Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch, was primarily at the Hay Festival to discuss the success of his adaptation of War & Peace, the Sunday night drama that featured acclaimed performances from Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton.

In recalling how he got involved, he revealed that BBC Wales had approached him to bring Tolstoy’s epic novel to the screen but admitted that while pleased with how it turned out, if he could do it again he would have made it longer than the six one-hour episodes.

“We didn’t realise quite how it would spread. In retrospect, I think maybe I was wrong, it should have been seven or maybe eight.”

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