The BBC is planning an on-screen adaptation of Vikram Seth’s acclaimed novel A Suitable Boy, which it says will be its first period drama featuring an entirely non-white cast. The book will be made into an eight-part series for which filming is likely to start later this year, The Telegraph reported on Thursday. It will be written by Andrew Davies, who was behind the popular BBC remakes of Pride and Prejudice, and War and Peace.
BBC’s head of drama, Piers Wenger said this was part of “a deliberate gamble” to adapt a novel with no white characters. He said, “We know that the biggest risks deliver the biggest hits and in a landscape which is so fast changing, ideas need to be well ahead of the curve.”
BBC’s announcement comes soon after its regulator Ofcom had said they found audience feedback showing the channel was too “focused on middle-aged, middle-class audiences” and that it could “do more for the wider public, ethnic minorities and younger groups.” Ofcom chief Sharon West had also said that “too many older people, especially women, feel they’re negatively portrayed on TV”. Other dramas that BBC announced it will start making are The Little Women, The War of the Worlds, and Black Narcissus, Variety said.
Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy came out in 1993 and is one of the longest English language novels to have ever been published. Its soft cover version is 1,488 pages long. The book follows the lives of four families over around 18 months in a newly independent India. It is about a widow Rupa Mehra’s efforts to find a “suitable boy” for her 19-year-old daughter Lata.