BBC to Air Literary Mystery Miss Austen


The BBC has acquired the four-part literary mystery Miss Austen, an adaptation of Gill Hornby’s best-selling novel of the same name.

The drama reimagines the mystery of Cassandra Austen’s burning of her famous sister Jane’s letters. It stars Keeley Hawes (It’s a Sin, Bodyguard, Line of Duty), Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, Vigil), Patsy Ferran (Living, Hot Milk), Jessica Hynes (Life After Life, Years and Years) and Mirren Mack (The Witcher: Blood Origin, The Nest), among others.

The series begins in 1830, a while after Jane has died. Cassandra races to see her young friend Isabella, who is about to lose her home following her father’s death, to help her and to search for a stash of private letters that could destroy Jane’s reputation. When she discovers them, she is transported back to her youth. Young Cassandra and Jane navigate the infatuations, family feuds and dashed hopes that shaped their lives and laid the foundations for Jane’s stories. In the present, Cassandra then realizes she has been blind to the real cause of Isabella’s heartache.

Additional cast members are Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey, Shetland), Kevin McNally (The Crown, Ten Percent), Max Irons (Condor, The Wife), Alfred Enoch (How to Get Away with Murder, Foundation), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton, Archie) and Liv Hill (The Serpent Queen, Elizabeth is Missing).

Directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Aisling Walsh (Maudie, Elizabeth is Missing), the series started filming last month in the U.K. It is a co-production between Bonnie Productions and MASTERPIECE, in association with the BBC and Federation Stories. Stella Merz (Gentleman Jack, Renegade Nell) is producer.

Sue Deeks, head of BBC program acquisition, said: “Miss Austen is the perfect blend of intriguing mystery, vivid and engaging characters and beguiling period charm—BBC viewers certainly have a treat in store.”

Christine Langan, executive producer, said: “To have this hugely entertaining female-driven story told by such a stellar cast, led by Keeley Hawes, as Bonnie Productions’ first drama is genuinely a dream come true. Gill Hornby has found an ingenious way into the Austen world, creating female characters modern audiences can empathize with and delight in. I’m so honored to be bringing this wonderful novel to the screen in collaboration with the deeply talented trio of writer Andrea Gibb, director Aisling Walsh and producer Stella Merz.”

Susanne Simpson, executive producer for MASTERPIECE, added: “Miss Austen is a beautifully told story about the loves and losses of the Austen sisters. I’m thrilled that this heartfelt, romantic and funny adaptation is in the hands of a remarkable ensemble cast led by the incredible Keeley Hawes.”