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BBC Lands ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock,’ Starring Natalie Dormer (EXCLUSIVE)

The BBC will take British viewers on a “Picnic at Hanging Rock” with Natalie Dormer next year after scooping exclusive U.K. rights to the hotly anticipated TV adaptation of the classic movie and novel, Variety has learned.

The show was produced in Australia for pay-TV platform Foxtel and its Showcase channel, which will launch it Down Under. Amazon has it for the U.S., and the BBC will air it in Britain, although the pubcaster has yet to make a call on whether it should play on its BBC One or BBC Two channel.

“Game of Thrones” and “The Hunger Games” star Natalie Dormer leads the cast of the six-part TV adaptation, which follows the mysterious disappearance of three schoolgirls after a Valentine’s Day picnic and the subsequent investigation and impact on the community. Dormer plays Hester Appleyard, the school’s prim English headmistress. The tale is fictional but plays as if it could have been based on a true story.

Set in 1900, the novel was written by Joan Lindsay in the 1960s and has become one of Australia’s best-known literary works. Peter Weir’s 1975 movie version was also well-received.

The BBC confirmed to Variety that it has picked up the series. “It is with great pleasure that we confirm the BBC as the U.K. home for this new, fresh take on ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock,’” said Sue Deeks, head of program acquisition for the broadcaster. “The combination of creative team and cast – led by one of Britain’s most exciting actors, Natalie Dormer – will make for a must-see series for both fans of the classic novel and those coming to this wonderful story for the first time.”

The BBC deal marks another significant pre-sell for the series. It is produced by FremantleMedia Australia and distributed by FremantleMedia International, which sold it to Amazon for the U.S. and to pay-TV heavyweight Canal+ in France. Foxtel has yet to confirm a launch date for the series in Australia.

FremantleMedia International also confirmed the deal with the BBC. “With its globally renowned reputation for quality and the opportunity for this groundbreaking series to reach a deservedly wide U.K. audience, we are very excited to partner with the BBC,” said Jamie Lynn, EVP, head of sales and distribution, EMEA. “This re-imagining of the classic Joan Lindsay novel is modern, mysterious, completely gripping and visually spectacular.”

A number of emerging stars appear alongside Dormer and play the Appleyard College girls, including Lily Sullivan (“Jungle”), Madeleine Madden (“Tomorrow When the War Began”), Samara Weaving (“The Babysitter”), and Ruby Rees (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”).

Executive producers on the show are FremantleMedia Australia’s Jo Porter and Anthony Ellis and Foxtel’s Penny Win. Alice Addison is the writer and Brett Popplewell produced. The directors are Larysa Kondracki, Michael Rymer and Amanda Brotchie.

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