10 things we learned from the press launch for ‘The Casual Vacancy’

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A press launch for BBC One’s upcoming adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy was held in London last week.

Based on the Harry Potter author’s global bestseller, the three-part mini-series begins at 9pm on Sunday 15 February on BBC One.

The Casual Vacancy is adapted for TV by Sarah Phelps (The Crimson Field) and stars Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rufus Jones and Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful).

Here are 10 things we learned from the Q&A session after the screening…


When writing EastEnders, to propel herself out of writer’s block, writer Sarah Phelps would write what she termed ‘BlueEnders’, with all sorts of salacious and violent things happening upstairs in The Queen Vic, before she returned to the script proper.

Neither Sarah Phelps nor Keeley Hawes have read any Harry Potter.

In the novel of The Casual Vacancy, the death which catalyses the residents of Paxford into pursuing the casual vacancy happens on page 3. Onscreen, the character lasts a little longer.

In the book, the central dispute is over a boundary line. Onscreen, this has changed to a dispute over the commercial versus the philanthropic use of a grand property.

Julia McKenzie watches Pointless, from which she learned that the JK Rowling book most taken out from British libraries is The Casual Vacancy.

Rory Kinnear is given a huge speech in which his character is repulsed by attempts at social engineering. After he performed this for the take, Sir Michael Gambon turned to Julia McKenzie and observed admiringly, ‘What an actor!’

Actress Abigail Lawrie, who plays Krystal, is Scottish but does convincing West Country.

Several visitors to Painswick – where part of the drama was filmed – mistook the lingerie shop, run by Keeley Hawes’s character, Samantha, for the real thing. These included two old ladies who browsed the contents of the window; one customer who walked in, thinking that there was a sale on, and the person who complained about the shop to the parish council.

Julia McKenzie lived in Burford for fourteen years and felt very much the pressures of small town life: a dispute over the positioning and style of a new noticeboard lasted for two and a half years and was never resolved.

One of the audience members at the preview screening mistook director Jonny Campbell for actor Rory Kinnear with a beard.


Watch the trailer…

Are you looking forward to The Casual Vacancy? Let us know below…