The Radio Times is offering a sneak preview of ITV's Austen's season, due to air in Feb/March 2007. Scans of the article are available at Austenblog. From the pictures featured in the article I must say Billie Piper looks a great Fanny Price, but it's difficult to see how Mansfield Park has been filmed ENTIRELY on location at Newby Hall in Yorkshire, as claimed. How would Fanny's scenes in Portsmouth be recreated? Also there is a photo which lists Joseph 'Mangan' as William Price, but this seems to be a typo; this looks like Joseph 'MORGAN'. I felt pretty sure Morgan would take on the role of Henry Crawford, most particularly as there is no other young male actor listed at IMDB - and surely Henry is a more crucial character than William? Notably there is no mention as yet of actors for Rushworth, Tom Bertram or any of Fanny's family in Portsmouth.
The other photos in the Radio Times preview depict a rain-sodden scene showing Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliott in Persuasion speaking with Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth on Bath's famous Royal Crescent. She is clutching a letter (presumably the letter Wentworth writes for her, recounting his renewed love for her) which indicates perhaps that this scene is close to the end of the tele-film; perhaps even the moment of romantic resolution.
There is also a scene from Northanger Abbey with young Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) aboard a carriage with John Thorpe (William Beck). The article wrongly claims the young man beside her is in fact James Morland (Hugh O'Conor).
As an ardent Austen fan, and with something of a keen academic interest in Austen adaptations, I am very excited about this upcoming season. All new adaptations are welcome, and I genuinely cannot fathom the reluctance of a clutchful of Austen fans to embrace new versions of her work - the IMDB mesage boards bear plentiful witness to this mood. Personally speaking, my most-anticipated Austen tele-film will be Northanger Abbey, as I have never seen this committed to screen, having missed out on the 1986 TV adaptation with Peter Firth.
I loved the 1995 BBC tele-film of Persuasion, more so it seems than numerous other Austen fans, but never warmed to Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth. I have high hopes for Rupert Penry-Jones, best-known currently as Adam in Spooks, as the latest Captain.
Again, unlike most other Austen fans it seems, based on my regular perusals of online fandom and contact with academic and literary communities, I am one of the very few who positively adored Rozema's 1999 Mansfield Park. I loved her radicalisation of aspects of the novel, fleshing out a range of wider, political discourses with pathos and brio, although perhaps her overall realisation was flawed for reasons too numerous to cite in this brief article (another time!). But Rozema's unique(re)vision, which steadfastly refused to perform as a servile paean to Austen's great novel, was brave and unfairly maligned. I don't expect similar treatment from the ITV production, in part because I have generally found ITV adaptations to be less adventurous even than the BBC, which has such a strong suit in this field it can afford to take risks without alienating its core drama audience or inflicting undue damage on its 'heritage TV' brand values. Even so, I can't wait for the ITV's Austen season to get underway, and Spring 2007 feels a long way off.