Tonight sees the second of ITV's Austen adapations, Northanger Abbey, starring Felicity Jones as Catherine and JJ Feild as Henry.
The script has been hanging around for eight or nine years.Written by Andrew Davies, who wrote the phenomenally successful screenplay of Pride and Prejudice, which starred Colin Firth, it was originally written for Weekend Television. Then Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films optioned it, added drafts from other writers such as Martin Amis, but eventually abandoned the project.
This just goes to show how expensive it is to make period dramas, and how difficult it is to get them on TV, because if Andrew Davies, with a huge hit behind him, couldn't get his work on TV, then what hope for anyone else? But the wheel turned. Attitudes at ITV changed. People changed. And Austen was 'in' again.
The new adaptation stars Felicity Jones, who will play 17-year-old Catherine Morland. Andrew Davies said he was "completely blown away" by Jones's audition tape. "She is absolutely delightful to look at. She is possibly slightly too pretty for Catherine. With all that radio experience, she had absolutely wonderful diction. Every word is crystal clear. I'm really thrilled we've got her. I think she's a terrific discovery."
It sounds promising. But we'll just have to wait and see . . . .