Tag Archives: bbc

Banville’s pseudonym gets a TV series


GalleyCat yesterday reported that Benjamin Black (alternative penname of John Banville) is set to make his screen debut on BBC One.

“Actor Gabriel Byrne will star as the leading character, Quirke, in the three-part series of 90 minute episodes based on the books. Screenwriters  Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson have adapted the story.”

Here are more details from the release: “The series is a co-production between BBC Drama Production and Dublin-based companies Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions.  It is 3X 90 minutes and filming begins in Dublin later this year. The Executive Producers are Jessica Pope for the BBC, Ed Guiney for Element Pictures and Joan Egan for Tyrone Productions.  Lisa Osborne is the BBC Producer and John Alexander is the director of the first film ‘Christine Falls’.”

Meanwhile, Banville, as Benjamin Black, is currently working on reviving Raymond Chandler’s Detective Philip Marlowe, a story which is slated for publication in 2013.

According to the BBC Media Centre, Banville said: “I am very excited by the prospect of seeing my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne, a perfect choice for the part.  I know both Quirke and Benjamin Black will be wonderfully served by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, two masters of their craft.”


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Wolf Hall to be BBC2 Drama

After the success of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning ITV show Downton Abbey, it seems BBC2 is following suit with the promise of a new production of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall and her new novel Bring Up the Bodies.

It will be adapted by Peter Straughan, the man who brought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to the big screen. Wolf Hall, a novel charting the rise of Tudor politician Thomas Cromwell, will become a six-part series for BBC2. It is expected to be broadcast in late 2013.

As reported yesterday by the Guardian, the third part of Mantel’s Tudor trilogy, the yet-to-be-published The Mirror and the Light, might form a standalone drama at a later date.

Stressing the channel’s commitment to drama in the face of cuts that from the new year will ravage the daytime schedule, BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow – who named Wolf Hall as among her favourite books of recent years – said the novels were “right in the cross hairs of what BBC2 viewers will enjoy”.

“I think there is a cumulative, mounting hunger for the [dramas] that we do,” said Hadlow. “That doesn’t mean that all of them will be massive audience drivers but I think what drama injects into the channel is of such value … something so powerful that you’d want to protect that at all costs.”

Other new dramas for BBC2, which will air Tom Stoppard’s eagerly awaited adaptation of Parade’s End starring Benedict Cumberbatch tonight at 9pm, include spy thriller The Honourable Woman by Hugo Blick, who wrote and directed the channel’s recent opinion-splitting drama “The Shadow Line”.

Hadlow also spoke about BBC adaptations of Shakespeare and French and Russian classics — for more, see here.

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George Orwell statue rejected by BBC

The statue was proposed by the George Orwell Memorial Trust, run by former Labour politician Ben Whitaker, and backed by names including Rowan Atkinson, Melvyn Bragg, John Humphrys, James Naughtie and Orwell’s son Richard Blair. More than £60,000 has been raised to have Martin Jennings, the sculptor of the bronze of John Betjeman at St Pancras and of Philip Larkin in Hull, create it.

As reported in the Guardian yesterday, “Orwell worked for the BBC between 1941 and 1943 as a talks producer for the Eastern service, writing what the BBC describes as “essentially propaganda for broadcast to India”. He is said to have based the infamous Room 101 from his novel 1984 on a BBC conference room.”

Mr Jennings said: “George Orwell is regarded as something of a patron saint of political journalism so his presence near the BBC could surely act as some kind of inspiration to all independent-minded broadcasters. […] The point was not particularly to refer to Orwell’s own history as a journalist for the BBC which he was for a couple of years during the second world war – he resigned as he found it rather tedious and bureaucratic. But he was such a paragon of political journalism, an example of how it should be done. I realised London was lacking a statue of this great man, and wanted to find a location with resonance … It was all going smoothly and then there was a sudden hiatus, at which point it was decided that the statue should be close to but not literally on the BBC premises.”

Lady Bakewell, who is backing the campaign, said the BBC should “honour the greatest British journalist of his day” with a statue in the piazza outside the new Broadcasting House in Oxford Circus, central London. A BBC spokesperson said: “We cannot put the statue immediately outside New Broadcasting House as the BBC piazza already has artwork by Mark Pimlott built into the pavement which would be obscured. We are however working with Westminster city council and those involved with the statue to find an appropriate location nearby.”

The trust is currently waiting for Westminster city council to give planning permission to erect the statue in Portland Place, nearby but not on the BBC’s premises.

According to Baroness Bakewell, Mark Thompson, the Corporation’s outgoing director general, told her the statue could not be erected on BBC premises because Orwell was “too Left-wing”:

“I met Mark Thompson at a BBC reception and mentioned the project. He said, ‘Oh no, Joan, we can’t possibly. It’s far too Left-wing an idea.”

George Orwell tendered his resignation from the BBC “because for some time past I have been conscious that I was wasting my time and the public money on doing work that produces no results”, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the proposal to place a statue of the author on the broadcaster’s premises has been rejected.

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