Andrew Davies has a string of successful TV adaptations to his credit. Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice, The Line of Beauty, Tipping the Velvet, House of Cards – all a testament not only to his prodigious output but also to his versatility.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Davies has two new adaptations coming to UK television screens shortly and as with his earlier work, each is as different from the other as the channels for which Davies is writing.
The first piece is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Gothic ghost story Affinity, which is to be broadcast on ITV1.
Affinity is the third of Waters’ works to be adapted for TV, and the second by Davies. Sally Haynes of ITV believes that “…the combination of supernatural mystery, Sapphic romance and a disturbing twist to the tale give this an entirely different flavour to the typical costume drama.”
The second is John Cleland’s Fanny Hill, adapted in two parts for BBC Four and starring Alison Steadman as bawdy madam Mrs Brown. Steadman last worked on a Davies adaptation in 1995 when she played Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. She is joined on Fanny Hill by Samantha Bond, Hugo Speer and newcomer Rebecca Night, who plays the eponymous heroine.
Steadman was very keen to work with Davies again. “As soon as I knew it was Andrew Davies that was doing the adaptation, it was a definite plus for me,” she said. “What [he] does is takes a wonderful story and he adds his own twist to it, he’s quite courageous in the way he writes so he’s not afraid to put a few new things in but also you never feel that they’re not period or they’re not right, he just gives it another twist which is fun to do and fun to read.”
You have to have a great deal of gusto to take as your first major television role a lead character whose name has been synonymous with sex for more than two centuries, and gusto is exactly what Rebecca Night has displayed as she takes on the challenge of Fanny Hill.
“Fanny is an amazing character,” says Night, “she’s very honest and to begin with has this amazing innocence and yet she always has this inner quality of strength. She gets to become this naughty minx, and it’s a lot of fun to play because she doing things that you just don’t want to do in real life. She’s just vibrant and full of life. In two years so much happens to her – not all it pleasant but through it all she is determined just to survive.”
Fanny Hill will air on BBC Four later in the autumn.Join TVScoop on Facebook for exclusive competitions and gossip