Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost in Austen a.k.a. Life on Mr Darcy

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single programme in possession of a good idea will soon be flattered by all manner of imitations. Last year Life on Mars found a way to have its cake and eat it by reviving all the favourite tropes of mid-70s cop show The Sweeney, while inserting a modern metrosexual copper into the milieu to offer an ironic commentary upon those selfsame tropes. The result: a big, fat hit for Kudos and the BBC [after seven years of rejection by various broadcasters, natch].

Well, it didn't take long for others to recognise a fresh idea when they saw one and decide to create their own twist upon it. ITV announced its forthcoming schedule for this spring and summer, while also making mention of future drama commissions. In Life on Mars, copper Sam Tyler falls into a coma, only to wake up 33 years back in the past. ITV will soon be screening Time Of Your Life, in which Genevieve O'Reilly stars as a woman who wakes after being in a coma for 18 years. Hopefully her surname isn't Van Winkle.

I'm more intrigued by Lost in Austen, the story of a modern day Jane Austen fangirl who swaps places with fictional heroine Elizabeth Bennet, and gets lost in the early 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice. The series is being made by Mammoth Screen, and is written by Guy Andrews. He scripted my favourite episode from the recent series of Morse spin-off Lewis. That showed a deft lightness of touch that Lost in Austen will need to succeed. Heaven only knows what P&P fans will make of the series when it airs in 2008. No doubt a few will complain about the delicate shades of Pemberly being thus polluted...


Paul said...

Have you read Jasper Fforde's brilliant novel The Eyre Affair? Judging by your description, Lost in Austen sounds alarmingly similar.

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