BBC One is moving forward with an adaptation of The Moonstone, more than four years after they first announced that they would be bringing the Wilkie Collins novel to the small screen.
The Moonstone follows charismatic adventurer Franklin Blake on the most important quest of his life – to solve the disappearance of the priceless Moonstone and win back Rachel Verinder, his one true love. The novel was once described by TS Eliot as “the First and Greatest of English Detective novels”.
John Thomson (Cold Feet) and Sarah Hadland (The Job Lot) lead the cast as Sergeant Cuff and Miss Clack, respectively. Rounding out the cast is theatre actors Joshua Silver and Terenia Edwards as Franklin Blake and Rachel Verinder; Sophie Ward as Lady Verinder; Stewart Clarke as Godfrey Ablewhite, Leo Wringer as Betteredge, and David Calder as Mr Bruff. Casting for further role is still underway, with the BBC stating that further cast members would be confirmed at a later date.
“The Moonstone spawned a new genre: the detective novel. Its influence endures to the present day, in books and on television”, said Dan McGolpin, Controller of BBC Daytime and Early-Peak. “With the help of BBC Learning we are offering BBC One viewers the chance to see this gripping story play out across five afternoons. I’m thrilled that the production has attracted such a strong cast, a mix of well-known and up and coming actors, all incredibly talented. Our viewers are in for a treat.”
Bringing fresh meaning to development hell, the BBC has been attempting to get an adaptation of The Moonstone off the ground since at least 2011. It was in January 2012 that then Drama Controller Ben Stephenson commissioned a three-part adaptation from Ed Whitmore and BBC Drama Production. While the other scripted projects that were greenlit at the same time (Secret Of Crickley Hall, Room On The Broom, Wolf Hall and Truckers) all made it into production in relatively short order, The Moonstone was shelved only months after the commission.
At the time, the BBC declined to comment on the status of the adaptation, but TVWise understands that it was shelved due to “a divergence of creative visions”. Now the project has been redeveloped as a five-part series for the daytime schedule, with Rachel Flowerday and Sasha Hails having penned the scripts. It will air over five consecutive afternoons on BBC One as part of the corporation’s Love To Read season. Miranda Hart, David Walliams and Jo Sargent’s indie King Bert Productions is producing, with Joanna Hanley serving as the series producer, while Red Rock‘s Lisa Mulcahy is attached to direct. The executive producers are Jo Sargent, John Yorke and Dan McGolpin. Production on the new adaptation is now underway in Yorkshire.