Miss Austen - Keeley Hawes as Cassandra

Miss Austen – BBC pick up the novel adaptation

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The four-part drama stars Keeley Hawes as Cassandra Austen, sister of Jane. 

The BBC has announced that it has acquired Miss Austen, a four-part drama based on Gill Hornby’s best-selling and much loved novel. The story takes a literary mystery and spins it into a fascinating, witty and heart-breaking story of sisterly love.

The adaptation of Miss Austen is lead by Keeley Hawes (Orphan Black: Echoes), with Rose Leslie (Vigil), Mirren Mack (The Witcher: Blood Origin) and Jessica Hynes (There She Goes) also in the cast.

Here’s the premise of Miss Austen:

The drama begins in 1830, a while after Jane has died. Cassandra (Keeley Hawes) races to see her young friend Isabella (Rose Leslie) who is about to lose her home following her father’s death. Cassandra is ostensibly there to help her friend, but her real motive is to find a stash of private letters which, in the wrong hands, could destroy Jane’s reputation.

Miss Austen cast - Rose Leslie, Keeley Hawes, Mirren Mack & Jessica Hynes
L-R: Rose Leslie, Keeley Hawes, Mirren Mack and Jessica Hynes. (Image: Robert Viglasky)

On discovering them, Cassandra is overwhelmed as she is transported back to her youth. In flashback, we meet Young Cassy and Jane (Patsy Ferran) as they navigate the infatuations, family feuds and dashed hopes which shaped their lives and laid the foundations for Jane’s unforgettable stories.

Cassandra’s re-evaluation of her past eventually leads her to realise how blind she has been to the real cause of Isabella’s heartache and distress. Finding a way to guide Isabella towards true happiness, Cassandra is finally able to understand and celebrate the sacrifices she chose to make for her brilliant sister, Jane.

The wider ensemble for Miss Austen includes Patsy Ferran, Phyllis Logan, Kevin McNally, Max Irons, Alfred Enoch, Calam Lynch and Liv Hill.

The drama, directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Aisling Walsh, started filming last month in the UK. The producer is Stella Merz (Renegade Nell).

Miss Austen is a co-production of Bonnie Productions and MASTERPIECE, in association with the BBC and Federation Stories.