Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bronte BBC Bonanza

The BBC's new four-part version of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre set to roll out this Autumn stars Toby Stephens as Rochester and newcomer Ruth Wilson as Jane. Stephens has starred in numerous adaptations, including The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in 1996 (Bronte territory again, this time, Anne), The Great Gatsby 2000, Cousine Bette 1998, Orlando 1992, Onegin 1999, Possession 2002 and The Camomile Lawn 1992. His co-star in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Tara Fitzgerald, now plays Mrs Reed, Francesca Annis stars as Lady Ingram, Christina Cole as Blanche and Pam Ferris takes on Grace Poole. Susanna White is the director - noted for her work on the 2005 adaptation of Bleak House, and Sandy Welch is the screenwriter. Welch formerly adapted North and South for the BBC in 2004 and Our Mutual Friend by Dickens in 1997. A special preview showing will take place at the British Film Institute on September 16th.

Notably a TV version of Jean Rhys's spin-off novel Wide Sargasso Sea, which charts the prequel to Jane Eyre's narrative is also due to be aired this Autumn, starring Rafe Spall as a young Rochester and Rebecca Hall as Antoinette, his doomed wife. The BBC/Kudos production has been directed by Brendan Maher (Kidnapped 2005) and adapted by Stephen Greenhorn.

A new film adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights from Ecosse Films is also due to go into production with Olivia Hetreed adapting the novel to screen. Hetreed's most high profile work to date has been the adaptation of Tracey Chevalier's bestselling novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring. This new version of the Bronte novel will focus on Heathcliff's status as a lowly immigrant and the youth of the characters will be brought to the fore.

Production plans are still underway for a movie version of Branwell Bronte's life - adding to the current trend for literary bio-pics (Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway is a further example). Jonathan Rhys Meyers takes on the role of Branwell in Bronte, flanked by a splendid cast: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), Nathalie Pressman (Bleak House) is Emily, and New Zealand newcomer Emily Barclay (the magnificent In His Father's Den) plays Anne. Hugh Dancy (Daniel Deronda) takes on publisher George Smith and Ben Chaplin (Washington Square) is Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte's eventual husband.

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