EXCLUSIVE: It’s hard not to be impressed with the cast that BBC Two and Heyday Films have assembled for their upcoming 90 minute one-off drama The Thirteenth Tale. I’ve just learned that Broadchurch alum Olivia Colman has been cast in the drama in a leading role. According to my sources, Colman has been cast as Margaret Lea, the biographer to whom ageing novelist Vida Winter recounts her life story. The news of Colman’s casting comes after TVWise previously broke the news that Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave, Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones), Gordon Winter (Friday Night Dinner), Antonia Clarke (Lightfields) and Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones) have all been cast in the drama.
Based on the novel of the same name by Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale tells the story of the residents of Angelfield House and follows ageing novelist Vida Winter (Vanessa Redgrave), who enlists young writer Margaret Lea (Olivia Colman) to finally tell the story of her life – including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager. The project has been described to me as a “chilling ghost story which examines family tragedy.” The adaptation was written by Christopher Hampton, who previously adapted Doris Lessing’s novel Two Mothers and Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement. Heyday Films is producing with David Heyman, Norma Heyman and Rosie Alison serving as producers. Inside Men helmer James Kent is attached to direct.
TVWise initially reported back in March that BBC Two Controller Janice Hadlow and the BBC’s Controller of Drama Ben Stephenson had commissioned a one-off adaptation of the novel and that there were rumours circulating that The Thirteenth Tale would be a key part of BBC Two’s Christmas line-up. The BBC has yet to formally announce or confirm any of this, but I’ve now confirmed with my sources that this drama will be part of the BBC’s Christmas schedule. Production on The Thirteenth Tale is slated to commence later this month.