‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ adaptation is ‘genre-changing’, says star

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Peaky Blinders star Charlotte Riley has described BBC One’s upcoming Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell mini-series as “exciting and new and different and fresh”.

Adapted from Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel by Wallander writer Peter Harness, the new seven-part adaptation is due to air on BBC One this spring.

Riley, who plays Arabella, told Nerdist: “You could really tell that everyone had read the 7 episodes and thought ‘Wow, I wanna do this.’ It sounded kinda genre-changing and it really pushed the limits of costume and hair and make-up.”

The actress added: “They didn’t want to use CGI for a lot of it so everybody in every department had to be super-creative and you really did get a sense that everybody felt a part of something that was exciting and new and different and fresh.”

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Discussing the production’s sets, she teased: “You see it in the script or the section of the book and then you walk on set and there is a giant tree, in a ballroom, and there are dancers and music and you really do feel it. You get completely transported every day. You’re learning dance moves and there’s wind machines — you’re thinking ‘this is something out of my craziest dreams.’ A lot of the sets are quite twisted and strange and quite eerie, but beautiful at the same time — like a kind of f**ked up nightmare.”

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell also stars Bertie Carvel (Restless, Matilda) and Eddie Marsan (Filth) in the lead roles of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, alongside Marc Warren (Mad Dogs), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures), Samuel West (Mr Selfridge), Enzo Cilenti (Rome) and Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones).

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The official synopsis reads: “Set at the beginning of the 19th-century, England no longer believes in practical magic. The reclusive Mr Norrell (Marsan) of Hurtfew Abbey stuns the city of York when he causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. With a little persuasion and help from his man of business Childermass (Cilenti), he goes to London to help the government in the war against Napoleon. It is there Norrell summons a fairy to bring Lady Pole (Englert) back from the dead, opening a whole can of worms…”

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