War and Peace (BBC One)

BBC One’s ‘War and Peace’ adaptation cast announced

Grantchester James Norton
The cast has been revealed for BBC One’s epic new adaptation of War And Peace.

Adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s literary masterpiece by Mr Selfridge writer Andrew Davies, the six one-hour episodes will star James Norton (Grantchester), Paul Dano (12 Years A Slave) and Lily James (Downton Abbey).

Directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders), War and Peace begins filming next month in Russia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Downton Abbey 5 6 RosePaul Dano will play Pierre Bezukhov, with Lily James as Natasha Rostova and James Norton as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.

The cast also includes Stephen Rea (An Honourable Woman) as Prince Vassily Kuragin, Ade Edmondson (Blood) and Greta Scacchi (Brideshead Revisited) as Count and Countess Rostov, Jack Lowden (The Passing Bells) as Nikolai Rostov, Tom Burke (The Musketeers) as Dolokhov and Aisling Loftus (Mr Selfridge) as Sonya.

The Musketeers 2 Tom BurkeJames Norton said: “I’m thrilled to be entrusted with Andrei in this exciting adaptation. It’s a privilege to bring to life one of Tolstoy’s wonderfully rich and conflicted characters. And to get to work alongside talents such as Tom Harper, Andrew Davies, Lily James and Paul Dano is very exciting – I can’t wait to get started.”

Lily James added: “I am very excited and privileged to be playing Natasha, in this co-production between BBC and The Weinstein Company, of Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace. It is amazing to be part of such a prestigious cast and to appear in such a beautiful and rich adaptation by Andrew Davies.”

The Honourable WomanAndrew Davies commented: “When I came to War and Peace for the first time, rather late in life, I was struck by how fresh and modern the characters and relationships felt. It’s a story of the hopes and dreams of youth, set against the titanic background of the Napoleonic wars.”

The writer continued: “Three characters at the centre: Pierre, the bumbling, chaotic idealist; Prince Andrei, whose cool Darcy-like exterior conceals huge emotional conflict; and Natasha Rostova, possibly the most appealing heroine in literature. These three are surrounded by a gallery of unforgettable characters – we get love, friendship, huge swings of fortune, betrayals, tragedy, and a surprising amount of comedy too. ”

Sad News from the BBC

BBC swaps ‘cosy’ period drama for modern grit to prove licence fee is not ‘old-fashioned anomaly’
The BBC cannot rest on ‘cosy’ period dramas because it must appeal to everyone to justify the licence fee, head of drama says


King Henry VIII (Damian Lewis) scrutinises Thomas Cromwell’s (Mark Rylance) shot.
Wolf Hall, starring Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance, will not be ‘cosy’, Ben Stephenson says Photo: BBC/Giles Keyte
Hannah Furness

By Hannah Furness, Arts Correspondent

6:30AM GMT 27 Dec 2014

They were once a staple of Sunday night television, but it appears the “cosy” period dramas of yesteryear could be a thing of the past for the BBC.

The BBC’s controller of drama has said the corporation is no longer looking to commission safe, “traditional” pieces, as it aims to prove its programmes appeal to a broad audience to justify the licence fee.

Ben Stephenson, who is responsible for commissioning drama, said his team are not looking to create “cosy mainstream television”, choosing instead to make dramas which “take risks” and “push boundaries”.

He added it was not appropriate for the BBC to seek huge viewing figures by catering to one “particular audience”, insisting it must appeal to all sectors of society.

Otherwise, he said, it risks leaving a “huge part of the British population who pay for the BBC” feeling “totally disenfranchised by drama”, leaving the argument for continuing the licence fee in difficulties.

In years gone by, viewers enjoyed a staple of adaptations from the works of authors including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, with some of Britain’s finest acting talent from Colin Firth to Emma Watson gracing its screens.

Now, its most popular dramas include the gritty Happy Valley, The Fall and The Missing, with a modern focus on appealing to viewers from all walks of society with edgy “risk-taking” plotlines.

While period dramas have been commissioned for next year, including Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Andrew Davies’ adaptation of War and Peace, Stephenson said they were only broadcast if they showed something exceptional, surprising or “take massive risks with tone”.

Simply seeking out the next Austen adaptation would not be encouraged, he said, as he outlined a line-up of new shows including The Woman in Red, the scandalous true story of Lady Seymour Worsley, and J K Rowling’s dark look at modern society, The Casual Vacancy.

The months to come will be seen as crucial for the BBC as it leads up to the licence fee debate, with its vocal critics keeping a close eye on its spending and output.

The corporation has already been subject to cost-cutting measures to increase efficiency, while some have compared British drama unfavourably with American and Scandinavian offerings of recent years.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Stephenson has now put up a robust defence of the BBC’s programming, arguing it is now viewed as outclassing its rivals with American companies vying to work with the corporation to broadcast its drama.

Admitting the corporation is “not perfect” and must not “rest on its laurels”, he said it was essential for it to prove it was relevant to everyone in Britain – not just the mainstream, older viewers traditionally enjoying BBC One.

“You can get a very big audience by catering for a particular audience, and that audience is important, but if every drama caters for that one audience you’re suddenly going to find a huge part of the British population who pay for the BBC totally disenfranchised by drama,” he said.

“We’ve come on a big journey the last few years where I feel we’ve shifted perception from a broadcaster who’s most interested in traditional period adapations to a broadcaster who makes a really broad range of modern drama.

“Sometimes that will be period but the period drama we now do may be slightly more surprising; whether it’s a piece like Wolf Hall or a modern take on period like Peaky Blinders. The stand-out shows really have been big BBC One and Two modern shows that take massive risks with tone.

“If you look at Happy Valley and The Missing and Line of Duty, none of them are cosy mainstream television. All of them take risks, all of them push the boundaries; not for the sake of it but to tell the stories.

“The whole point of the licence fee is that we don’t value one audience over another audience. Whether you’re rich, poor, black, white, of any political persuasion, of any interests, you’re all the same because you all pay for us.

“We’ve got to offer content that people of all shapes and sizes love. No other broadcaster can do that because of demographics and advertising, and that’s the world, but I do think the licence fee proves it is not an old-fashioned anomaly.”

Admitting the BBC had been criticised for producing too much costume drama in the past, Stephenson said it would not longer be commissioning “traditional adaptations of traditional novels” but focusing on “contemporary shows and presenting a view of Britain that feels contemporary to all audiences”.

Adding period drama was not of interest to “huge swathes of audiences”, he said the BBC would continue to dramatise great literature but only if it avoided looking “old-fashioned”.

Call the Midwife, one of the BBC’s most successful period dramas of recent years, worked because it was “incredibly life-affirming” while still “tackling tough subjects, showing poverty and death and making serious comment about some of the things that happened”.

When asked how BBC drama would contribute to the licence fee debate, Stephenson said the “bottom line” was to leave politics to one side and create enough “really good programmes” that people would want to pay it.

But, he warned, further cuts would mean “there comes a point at which there’s a line and you can cross no further”, leaving the corporation dropping programmes entirely instead of trying to make them for less money.

“We can’t push it any further without cutting shows, and it then becomes which show?” he said. “It can’t just be about someone’s personal tastes. The point of the BBC is you’re not going to like everything but hopefully there’s enough you’ll like.

“The point of my job is to say here’s a broad spectrum of drama, and across the year hopefully you’ll find enough to love to say yes that’s worth the licence fee.”

The Magical Letter – Part Four


Four – The Abyss

For the first minutes, Anne just started walking down the pavement of Camden Place.

She was too stunned to notice who was strolling along the broad sidewalk in the damp and cold March evening. There were not a lot of people outside and certainly not on foot. Only a few carriages drove by and hurried away. When violent shivers started rolling down her back, Anne came out of her bewilderment and looked around her. Realisation hit her like a blow in the face; she was out in the streets, alone, at night, with absolutely nothing to cover her and she was getting cold and wet.

Where could she go, to whom could she turn? It was as if an abyss was beginning to yawn in front of her, a chasm widening by the second, already too large to span.

Frederick! She must go to Queen Square and ask for shelter. The kind Admiral and Mrs. Croft would surely take her in for the night, and tomorrow she could make other arrangements. Full of hope she began running towards her destination when a light but ice-cold sleet was starting to fall, soaking her within moments. Her woollen dress was no protection against this weather. Before she had even reached Camden Road, where she hoped to find a cab, the South-East wind was picking up, further draining her of whatever warmth was left in her slender body. Anne’s hair was coming down and wet strands were blown into her eyes. She impatiently wiped them away but to no avail. God! She needed to get out of this torrent! Stumbling blindly into a dark porch she welcomed the temporary lull out of the wind and rain. Her heart was beating like a drum and her lungs were aching from her run.

A growl came from behind her and Anne swivelled around! Looming over her like a spectrum of hell was a large figure of a man, his huge, calloused hands reaching out to her! A beggar! The thought rushed through her numb brain, but she was totally unable to move when the hands grabbed her by the shoulders. An acrid smell of rancid beer wafted over her and then came the stink of unwashed body, of rags that were never washed, of poverty and deprivation.

“Please, …”

“Beautiful …”

The voice was deep and hoarse and now Anne saw the man’s face, crude, unshaved, gaunt. It came closer to her own and suddenly her brain was working again! Anne tore herself out of the man’s grasp and stumbled backwards. Losing her footing, she fell and her head hit the pavement.

The dreaded abyss yawned widely and swallowed her.


“Sir Walter,” Lady Russell asked again, “am I to understand that you … that you expelled Anne from your house, at night and in a downpour of sleet? Did she say where she was going?”

Lady Russell could barely fathom what must have happened the night before, when she had left this house. She did, however, began to have an inkling of how much Sir Walter hated his middle child. He had never had any love for her but it frightened Lady Russell to see how much he despised his daughter.

“No, she did not. I am not in the least interested in her whereabouts and nor should you, Lady Russell. Anne is dead to me and to Elizabeth. We will never speak her name again in this house.”

“But … she could be … what if she … she could have gone to that man’s lodgings and throw herself at him! She is violently in love with him!”

“Madam!” Sir Walter bellowed, “You forget yourself! I am fully aware of the fact that you were my late wife’s dearest friend but that gives you no right to interfere with my personal affairs! Kindly take yourself off, your presence is no longer wished for!”

Lady Russell began to understand a little better what Anne must have felt the night before, now that she was shown into the street by a haughty footman who banged the door shut after her.


“Absolutely shocking!”, Sir Walter said, his voice rigid with disapproval.

“What would that be, dearest father?”, Elizabeth Elliot asked without lifting her eyes out of the fancy women’s magazine she was perusing at the breakfast table.

“The “Bath Daily Gazette” is fast becoming a veritable rag, these days! They are reporting about crime, can you believe it? As if respectable people would take an interest in the vile lower layers of Society and their disgusting deeds! It says here a … I don’t know what to call it … a person without a place to live has been shot through the head, last night!”

“You could call it a homeless person, I think,” Elizabeth mused and put her finger to her chin as if deep in thought.

“Oh, my goodness! It happened on Camden Road! That is two blocks away from here, outrageous! I must call upon Sir Bertram Coleridge, our M.P. right away this morning! He must take urgent measures to ensure that such a matter never occurs ever again in my neighbourhood!”


The thin, emaciated figure of the physician straightened his aching back away from the bed whereupon a small, slender woman was lying. He turned towards the man behind him and declared,

“The lady will regain consciousness very soon now, sir. She suffers from severe concussion and must be kept in a dimmed room for at least ten days. It is to be foreseen that she will be violently sick when she awakes. She is allowed only a drop of water and no solid food for a week. It is also possible that there are repercussions to be expected, such as severe headaches, memory lapses, anxiety attacks, delusions and hallucinations. Do not pay any attention to them but keep her tied onto the bed to protect her from harming herself.”

The gentleman by the door nodded towards the servant who stood beside him, a large brute of a man with a face like a ferret’s and small beady eyes.

“If you would care to come with me, doctor,” he mumbled in a hoarse voice, “my master ordered me to have you paid.”

The doctor gathered his instruments in his bag and followed the servant downstairs into a dim lit parlour. A violent blow on the head sent him rolling over the carpet. A second later, the servant shot him through the head with a pistol wrapped in a blanket to mask the blast of the shot.

Upstairs, the tall figure of the gentleman stared at the motionless, naked body of the girl on the bed.

“Hell’s bells, woman!”, he shouted at the maid next to the bed, “cover her up, will you! She is appallingly ugly! I never thought her beautiful but now, I think her truly hideous! Be sure to keep her tied and blindfolded the whole time, even when you feed her, do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” the maid whimpered and hurried to do her master’s bidding.

Daniel Deronda 2002

Daniel Deronda Starring Hugh Dancy, Ramola Garai, Hugh Bonneville, Jodhi May, Gretta Scacchi, Edward Fox.  Screen Writing by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995) from a novel by George Eliot


Daniel Deronda contains two main strains of plot, united by the title character. The novel begins in late August 1865 with the meeting of Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Harleth in Leubronn, Germany. Daniel finds himself at once attracted to but wary of the beautiful, stubborn, and selfish Gwendolen, whom he sees lose all her winnings in a game of roulette. The next day, Gwendolen receives a letter from her mother telling her that the family is financially ruined and asking her to go home. In despair that she has lost all her money, Gwendolen decides to pawn a necklace and debates gambling again in order to make her fortune. In a fateful moment, however, her necklace is returned to her by a porter, and she realizes that somehow Daniel saw her pawn the necklace and redeemed it for her. From this point, the plot breaks off into two separate flashbacks, one which gives us the history of Gwendolen Harleth and one of Daniel Deronda.

In October 1864, soon after the death of Gwendolen’s stepfather, Gwendolen and her family move to a new neighborhood. It is here that she meets Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt, a taciturn and calculating man, who proposes marriage shortly after their first meeting. At first open to his advances, she eventually flees from him (to the German town in which she meets Deronda) upon discovering that he has several children with his mistress, Lydia Glasher. This portion of the novel sets Gwendolen up as a haughty, selfish, yet affectionate daughter, admired for her beauty but suspected by many in society because of her satirical observations and somewhat manipulative behavior. She is also prone to fits of terror that shake her otherwise calm and controlling exterior.

Deronda has been raised by a wealthy gentleman, Sir Hugo Mallinger. Deronda’s relationship to Sir Hugo is ambiguous and it is widely believed, even by Deronda, that he is Sir Hugo’s illegitimate son, though no one is certain. Deronda is a light-hearted and compassionate young man who cannot quite decide what to do with his life, and this is a sore point between him and Sir Hugo, who wants him to go into politics. One day in late July 1864, as he is boating on the Thames, Deronda rescues a woman, Mirah Lapidoth, from attempting to drown herself. He takes her to the home of friends of his, and it is discovered that Mirah is a singer. She has come to London to search for her mother and brother after running away from her father, who kidnapped her when she was a child and forced her into an acting troupe. She ran away from him finally because she feared he was planning to sell her into a dubious marriage with a friend of his. Moved by her tale, Deronda undertakes to help her find her mother and brother, and through this he is introduced to London’s Jewish community. Mirah and Daniel grow closer and Daniel, anxious about his growing affection for her, leaves for a short time to join Sir Hugo in Leubronn, where he and Gwendolen first meet.

From here the story picks up in “real time,” and Gwendolen returns home from Germany in early September 1865 because her family has lost its fortune in an economic downturn. Gwendolen, having an antipathy to marriage, the only respectable way in which a woman could achieve financial security, attempts to avoid working as a governess by pursuing a career in singing or on the stage, but a prominent musician tells her she does not have the talent. In order to save herself and her family from relative poverty, she marries the wealthy Grandcourt, whom she believes she can manipulate to maintain her freedom to do what she likes, despite having promised Mrs. Glasher she would not do so and fearing that it is a mistake.

Deronda continues his search for Mirah’s family, meets a consumptive visionary named Mordecai. Mordecai passionately proclaims his wish that the Jewish people retain their national identity and one day be restored to their “Promised Land.” Because he is dying, he wants Daniel to become his intellectual heir and continue to pursue his dream and be an advocate for the Jewish people. In spite of being strongly drawn to Mordecai, Deronda hesitates to commit himself to a cause that seems to have no connection to his own identity. Deronda’s desire to embrace Mordecai’s vision becomes stronger when they discover Mordecai is the brother Mirah has been seeking. Still, Deronda is not a Jew and cannot reconcile this fact with his affection and respect for Mordecai, which would be necessary for him to pursue a life of Jewish advocacy.

Gwendolen, meanwhile, has been emotionally crushed by her cruel, manipulative husband. She is consumed with guilt for her disinheriting of Lydia Glasher’s children by marrying their father. On Gwendolen’s wedding day, Mrs. Glasher cursed her and told her she would suffer for her treachery, which only exacerbates Gwendolen’s feelings of dread and terror. During this time, Gwendolen and Deronda meet regularly, and Gwendolen pours out her troubles to him whenever they meet. During a trip to Italy, Grandcourt is knocked from his boat into the water and drowns. Gwendolen, who was present, is consumed with guilt because she had long wished he would die and she hesitated to help him. Deronda, who was also in Italy at the time to meet his mother (whose identity Sir Hugo has finally revealed), comforts Gwendolen and advises her. In love with Deronda, Gwendolen hopes for a future with him, but he urges her onto a path of righteousness in which she will help others in order to alleviate her suffering.

Deronda meets his mother and learns that he is the legitimate son of a famous opera singer with whom Sir Hugo was once in love. She tells him that she was the daughter of a Rabbi who forced her to marry another Jew, whom she did not love, despite her resentment of the rigid piety of her childhood. Daniel was the only child of that union, and on her husband’s death, she asked the devoted Sir Hugo to raise her son as an English gentleman, never to know that he is Jewish. Upon learning of his true origins, Deronda finally feels comfortable with his love for Mirah, and on his return to England in October 1866[2], he tells Mirah of his love for her. Daniel commits himself to be Mordecai’s disciple, and shortly after Deronda’s marriage, Mordecai dies with Daniel and Mirah at his side. Before Daniel marries Mirah, he goes to Gwendolen to tell her about his origins, his decision to go to Palestine (per Mordecai’s wish), and that he is betrothed to Mirah. Gwendolen is devastated by the news, but it becomes a turning point in her life, inspiring her to finally say, “I shall live.” She sends him a letter on his wedding day, telling him not to think of her with sadness but to know that she will be a better person for having known him. The married couple then begin a journey to Palestine to investigate what they can do to restore the Jewish nation.

This is a list of what a woman looks for today in a Gentleman.

Gold Watch

List compiled by Period Drama forum ladies.

01. Respectful – Educated – Courteous – Punctual – Always Well Groomed – Polite

02. Seats himself last when a group goes out to diner or other group occasions

03. Tips well and discreetly

04. Does not curse, interrupt, speak loudly or lose his temper

05. Does not laugh at others mistakes or embarrassments

06. Does not groom himself in public

07. Always insists on carrying or doing the heavier part of any job

08. Generous where he can be

09. Any affection is done privately, with the exception of an arm around the waist, hand holding and a peck on the cheek.

10. Only light social drinking

11. Has an approachable demeanor, smiles, makes good conversation. (Though we may love the brooding Darcy, he was initially accused of behavior unbecoming a gentleman.)

12. Has an air of confidence about him in the way he speaks and carries himself, without appearing conceited, arrogant, or superior.600full-richard-armitage

13. Holds doors open until the rest of his party have entered or exited.

14. Knows how to disagree without being disagreeable.

15. Keeps his language and humor clean – no cheesy lines or dirty jokes, especially in the presence of elders.

16. When necessary offers his seat to another.

17. Always lowers the toilet seat after using it.

18. Does random acts of kindness without being asked and without expecting anything in return.

Women would still like to find these qualities in today’s man, as was found in days of old