This year, MASTERPIECE is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Well, period drama lovers, as momentous as that is, we have even more reasons to rejoice! MASTERPIECE on PBS just announced an exciting new co-production of Henry Fielding’s classic book, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. MASTERPIECE, ITV, and Mammoth Screen (Poldark, Victoria) will partner to adapt, reimagining the Tom Jones book as a four-part TV miniseries.
THE STORY OF TOM JONES – AND A JANE AUSTEN CONNECTION?
The novel follows the adventurous journey of Tom Jones and his quest for real love. Tom Jones was first published in 1749 and “has delighted and scandalized readers” ever since – including Jane Austen!
Yes, Jane Austen was likely a Henry Fielding fan. The mysterious flirtation between Austen and Lefroy is connected to Tom Jones and the color of Lefroy’s coat – matching the character of Tom Jones’ own jacket because Lefroy was “supposedly” a huge fan! You can read Austen’s letters and come to your own conclusions about what Jane Austen meant with her Tom Jones references.
Even so, Austen fans who haven’t read Tom Jones are sure to be pleased by the connection. Janeites (and anyone else who hasn’t read the book yet or doesn’t plan to) will soon discover why the story was so scandalous and delightful!
Let’s just hope the adaptation makes sure to remember to give Jones a white coat…
Solly McLeod, the new actor from the upcoming The Rising, will star as the hero Tom. Sophie Wilde from You Don’t Know Me will play the heroine, Sophia Western. More cast announcements are sure to come soon!
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The other Executive Producers are James Gandhi, Damien Timmer, and Helen Ziegler for Mammoth Screen. For MASTERPIECE, Rebecca Eaton and Susanne Simpson. And finally, Polly Hill for ITV.
Gwyneth Hughes, the writer and executive producer of the upcoming miniseries, explains her vision:
“Tom Jones is the mother of all romcoms and isn’t that just what we all need after the last couple of years of misery? It’s a story where the sun barely stops shining, where love conquers all, and at its warm heart stand a pair of young sweethearts everyone can root for. Henry Fielding’s 18th century novel is sexy and fun; it’s also a dramatic rollercoaster, addressing so many modern concerns around consent, sexual equality and the pursuit of happiness. …This is a classic adaptation with a wise soul and a great big smile on its face.”
Well, that puts a big smile on our faces! We need more uplifting and happy stories in this world right now. And what’s better than a romantic period drama where love conquers all in the end?
MORE ABOUT THE ADAPTATION
James Gandhi, one of the Executive Producers from Mammoth Screen, explains why we should all be excited about this new reworking of the book:
“With Gwyneth Hughes’s masterful scripts, Georgia Parris at the directing helm and rising stars Solly McLeod and Sophie Wilde leading the cast – we couldn’t be more excited to bring this joyous 18th century story of identity and romance to the screen.”
Susanne Simpson, the Executive Producer of MASTERPIECE, has even more lovely things to say about the adaptation:
“Tom Jones is one of the most joyful, big-hearted romances ever written. We’re delighted to add it to the long list of MASTERPIECE classic adaptations. Mammoth Screen is the ideal producer to bring together a brilliant writer, exceptional director and outstanding cast for this ambitious project.”
But how will the classic novel play to a modern audience? Director Georgia Parris explains:
“This production of Tom Jones is an escapist romp into the sights, sounds and textures of 18th century England. It is an intimate story that shows how love and desire drive and confound us all, both women and men. I can’t wait to get started on telling this classic story, one of the first ever English novels, and making it resonate with a modern audience.”
Well, we can’t wait!
TOM JONES ON PBS – FILMING LOCATIONS
So, where and when will they film Tom Jones? The funding of the miniseries comes from Northern Ireland Screen; thus, it “will film entirely on location in and around Belfast this autumn.”
Richard Williams, the Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, reveals that they are “delighted to be working alongside Mammoth Screen, MASTERPIECE and ITV on the latest drama to film in Northern Ireland. We are sure audiences around the world will enjoy this exciting adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel.”
How do you feel about this new adaptation of the Tom Jones book? Are you as excited as us about the colorblind casting? Will you watch Tom Jones on PBS? Let us know in the comments?