Vanity Fair

War & Peace and Broadchurch creators turn to new costume drama for ITV

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Their Napleonic-era costume drama will be the latest in a long line of small- and big-screen adaptations of Vanity Fair

ITV has commissioned a new seven-part take on William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel, Vanity Fair. Produced by Julia Stannard (War & Peace, The Great Train Robbery), with James Strong (Broadchurch, United) directing, rising star Olivia Cooke will star as heroine Becky Sharp. The choice of lead comes of the back of her high-profile casting in another literary adaptation, Stephen Spielberg’s film version of the Ernest Cline sci-fi novel, Ready Player One.

The new version of the classic tale, will be written by Gwyneth Hughes (Miss Austen Regrets, Dark Angel). Hers will be the latest of many adaptations of the story of Becky Sharp, the first of which dates back to 1911. The tale was first adapted for UK TV in 1950, with other high-profile small screen takes coming in 1987 and 1998. Reese Witherspoon took the lead role in a film version of the tale in 2004.

Thackeray’s other notable film adaptation is a version of his book The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon. That became, of course, Stanley Kubrik’s 1975 film Barry Lyndon.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Vanity Fair follows Becky Sharp as she attempts to scale the heights of English Society. Her story of “villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing”, takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, “breaking hearts and losing fortunes as she goes”.

Filming will take place in London and Budapest, beginning in September