I’m very sorry to report that, while he has removed all the singing, the man adapting Les Misérables as a new BBC miniseries will not be adding back a bunch of carefree sex appeal. Fitting, probably, but still disappointing.
The Guardian sat down with Andrew Davies, who is perhaps most famous for his 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the BBC but has also done a host of other costume dramas including Bleak House and War and Peace. Also he wrote the original House of Cards and Bridget Jones’s Diary, a combination you don’t usually see. The piece is full of very fun tidbits; for instance:
Among his fans is none other than Vladimir Putin: the Russian president said 2016’s War and Peace “captured the Russian soul, the epoch and the depth” of Leo Tolstoy’s original. “I’m certainly no fan of Putin,” says Davies. “But I’m happy enough he’s a fan of mine.”
Also, he spent years as a teacher, an experience he credits with his skill at adapting the classics: “In a sense, doing it on screen is just a grander, more expensive way of doing a lecture.”
However, it has some disappointing information for those of us hoping he somehow managed to insert some proper libidinal energy into Victor Hugo’s classic:
The big question is of course this: how has he sexed it up? There have been rumours that Dominic West’s rear end gets an airing. He laughs. “You know, I do think sex is a huge motivation in a lot of these great 19th-century books but not so much in Les Misérables. I don’t think I’ve put a great deal in that wasn’t there. I’m sorry to disappoint.”
Though that’s not an outright denial of the appearance of Dominic West’s butt! But the best part is his little anecdote about trying to get Fanny Hill on the BBC:
Despite all these achievements, the 82-year-old writer never quite managed to smuggle his steamiest offerings into the nation’s living rooms. Take his adaptation of Fanny Hill, the 18th-century “memoirs of a woman of pleasure” that became one of the most prosecuted and banned novels. “This is a pornographic book,” says Davies. “There are lots of whips and sadomasochism – and I did try a couple of more explicit brothel scenes. But one works with a producer and a script editor, and they might say: ‘Um, we don’t think this is quite right for the BBC, Andrew.’ And so OK, it was worth a try.”
What is even the point of HBO if we can’t have a filthy adaptation of Fanny Hill by the guy who put Colin Firth in a wet shirt?