War and Peace watched by 5.7m as writer signs up for Les Misérables

Andrew Davies set to follow success of Tolstoy drama with adaptation for BBC of Victor Hugo novel

War and Peace bowed out with 5.7 million viewers on Sunday as it was revealed that scriptwriter Andrew Davies is set to follow the drama’s success with another period epic, Les Misérables.

Davies told the Telegraph he has signed up film producer Harvey Weinstein, who co-produced War and Peace, to the project, and is due to begin talks with the BBC. The Guardian reported earlier on Sunday that War and Peace producers Lookout Point were in “active” talks with Davies and his team about working on another “major classic”.

The writer, who is also responsible for the much loved Pride and Prejudice adaptation featuring Colin Firth, has admitted to sexing up Tolstoy’s original text. As well as including numerous nude scenes, the adaptation also makes more explicit an incestuous relationship between two of the characters.

Davies has been criticised for trying to squeeze the 1,400-page book into six episodes. The BBC granted the final episode a 20-minute extension, the first time it has done so for a Sunday evening drama.

Though the final episode failed to reach the heights of the show’s debut, which pulled in 6.3 million viewers, the series has attracted an average of 7.2 million once catch-up watching is included. The final episode also overtook ITV’s Vera on the night, having fallen behind the detective drama starring Brenda Blethyn last week.

Critics have responded largely positively to the adaptation, with the Guardian’s Viv Groskop saying: “Davies, director Tom Harper and the entire cast can hold their heads high as the final, almost-feature-length episode upheld the standards they have established from the outset: classy, sensitive, lavish, memorable.”

Davies, who is critical of recent stage and big-screen adaptations of Les Misérables, says his version will not feature musical numbers. However, those concerned about the way in which War and Peace was condensed for the small screen may be worried; Victor Hugo’s tale is by some counts more than 60,000 words longer.


Jasper Jackson

The GuardianTramp

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