LONDON — Brit producer Kate Bartlett has come a long way since her days as a BBC secretary nine years ago. She is basking in the glory of her second drama — a contempo reworking of Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century masterpiece “The Canterbury Tales” for the pubcaster — which got the thumbs up from critics and viewers.
The ratings-winning cocktail mixes Britain’s best-known writers, such as Tony Marchant and Peter Bowker, with A-list thesps including Julie Walters and James Nesbitt, in updates of the classic tales.
“The Miller’s Tale,” the first of six one-hour dramas, pulled in 8 million viewers, a sizable audience, when it aired Sept. 11 on BBC1.
Bartlett says the BBC took a chance on turning “The Canterbury Tales” into modern-day dramas, but it has paid off. “It’s been a great way to get single films back on television, and it’s brought Chaucer back into the mainstream,” she says. “It’s also making people want to read his books again.”
Much of Bartlett’s career has been with the BBC as a production runner and script reader. During her freelance years from 1996 to 1998, she worked as a script editor and a storyliner on ITV soap “London Bridge” before returning to the Beeb as a script editor in drama serials.
With two productions under her belt — the first being “The Stretford Wives,” about the loves, lives and scams of three Manchester sisters — Bartlett intends to take a well-earned vacation before embarking on her next two projects for the BBC: “Birth Right,” about in vitro fertilization, written by Marchant; and an adaptation of Preethi Nair’s second novel, “One Hundred Shades of White,” a tale of Asian women triumphing over adversity.