War and Peace scribe Andrew Davies will adapt the property as a six-part drama, with the BBC’s production arm, BBC Studios and Lookout Point coproducing in association with The Weinstein Company’s TV arm.
The BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, has international sales right through its strategic relationships with Lookout Point and BBC Studios, except in the US and China, where The Weinstein Company will sell it. Weinstein has an option in Canada.
Les Mis has run as a popular theatrical performance continuously since 1985. The Victor Hugo-penned story follows a peasant, Jean Valjean, running from a police inspector, Javert, in revolutionary 19th century France.
“Les Misérables is a huge, iconic title,” said Davies, who wrote previous BBC-Weinstein tie-up War and Peace. “Most of us are familiar with the musical version, which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last by adapting his masterpiece in a six-hour version for the BBC, with the same team who made War and Peace.”
Davies will executive produce along with Bethan Jones for BBC Studios, with Faith Penhale and Simon Vaughan doing the same for Lookout Point and Harvey Weinstein for Weinstein TV. BBC director of content Charlotte Moore commissioned the drama, along with acting controller of BBC drama commissioning Lucy Richer.
For BBC Studios, Les Misérables represents a first drama commission since it came into existence by replacing BBC Productions.
Weinstein chief Harvey Weinstein said the show would be “an intense and serious drama that will find contemporary relevance to what’s going on in the world today”.
I’m thrilled to be reunited with Faith Penhale and Simon Vaughan, my partners from War and Peace, with Charlotte Moore from the BBC, and of course, with Andrew Davies who wrote War and Peace,” he added.
“I think the BBC and Weinstein Television collaboration are a new paradigm in the telling of classics – they’re modern and yet respectful, and, with the exception of James Bond, nobody does it better than Andrew Davies.”