BBC eyes ‘Emma,’ ‘Cranford’ sequel

Company to co-produce mini, 'Masterpiece'

BBC Worldwide is co-producing a new “Emma” miniseries and a sequel to Judi Dench starrer “Cranford” for PBS’ “Masterpiece Classic” in early 2010.

PBS affiliate WGBH has also acquired three BBC productions, including a remake of “The 39 Steps,” to air on “Masterpiece.”

Romola Garai (“Atonement”) stars in “Emma,” which WGBH will co-produce and air in four hourlong parts. Cast also includes Michael Gambon and Jonny Lee Miller (who is appearing in an October “Masterpiece” project, “Endgame”). Sandy Welch (“Jane Eyre”) wrote the adaptation.

For “Cranford 2,” to be presented in two hourlong installments, Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Francesca Annis and Eileen Atkins are resuming their roles from the Emmy-nommed original. New additions to the cast include Jonathan Pryce, Tim Curry and Tom Hiddleston (“Wallender”).

Heidi Thomas, writer of the original adaptation, will pen the sequel.

The 39 Steps” stars Rupert Penry Jones (“MI-5”) in the lead role originated onscreen by Robert Donat in 1935. In addition, WGBH nabbed “Sharpe’s Peril” and “Sharpe’s Challenge,” each consisting of two 90-minute parts starring Sean Bean and shot entirely in India.

BBC and WGBH are also teaming on the 90-minute “Framed,” an adaptation of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s children’s novel, and the two-part “Small Island,” based on Andrea Levy’s 2004 novel about an ambitious Jamaican woman in post-WWII London. Naomie Harris (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) will star in the latter.

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