BBC to adapt Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’

Andrew Davies to pen six-part serial

LONDON — The BBC has underscored its commitment to big-budget drama by commissioning a six-part adaptation of “War and Peace.”

Scribe Andrew Davies, who won Emmys for the original version of “House of Cards” in 1990 and 2008’s “Little Dorrit,” is to adapt Leo Tolstoy’s novel as six one-hour episodes. It will air in 2015.

The upscale event drama will be exec produced by Faith Penhale, who is head of drama at BBC Wales. It was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, the BBC’s head of drama.

Davies said: “(It is) a thrilling, funny and heartbreaking story of love, war and family life. The characters are so natural and human and easy to identify with, and Natasha Rostova just beats Lizzy Bennet as the most lovable heroine in literature.”

In a speech to industry players last week, Stephenson reaffirmed the pubcaster’s commitment to drama, thought to be under threat from budget cuts: “I want to make BBC drama a cultural institution — a touchstone for quality and modernity with all the excitement and glamour of a curtain going up,” he said.

Among productions announced last week were an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s “Jamaica Inn,” and “Burton and Taylor,” which stars Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter.

The BBC’s recent drama output has included Stephen Poliakoff’s “Dancing on the Edge” and Jane Campion’s “Top of the Lake.”

Stephenson is set to deliver a keynote speech on creativity at April’s Mip-TV mart in Cannes.

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