Masterpiece announces BBC “Emma”

Our very own Janeite Mae filled my inbox today with the welcome news that Masterpiece Theatre has announced the BBC Emma dates for 2010!  Here is the press release from PBS: [and thank you Mae, for the heads-up!]

BBC Worldwide Sales and Distribution and WGBH today announced co-productions of two star-studded dramas: the beloved classic, Emma, and the sequel to BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated drama Cranford, Cranford 2. Both programs will make their U.S. premiere in early 2010 on WGBH’s MASTERPIECE CLASSIC on PBS. 

Commented Susanna Pollack, SVP, Sales & Distribution and Children’s, BBC Worldwide, Americas, “Following Cranford’s success in the U.S. and UK, we are excited to be working with WGBH again to bring its sequel, Cranford 2, as well as the Jane Austen’s classical tale, Emma, to audiences next year.” 

“Our viewers have been clamoring for more Jane Austen and more Judi Dench,” said MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton “These new productions add up to a very strong MASTERPIECE CLASSIC season in 2010.” 

Emma (4 x 60)

Romola Garai (Atonement, Daniel Deronda), Sir Michael Gambon (Cranford, Gosford Park), and Jonny Lee Miller (Byron, Eli Stone, Trainspotting) star in this BBC and WGBH co-production which follows the dire consequences of Emma’s failed matchmaking schemes. Michael Gambon plays Emma’s affectionate, neurotic father who allows her to be mistress of their household. Jonny Lee Miller—(who stars in MASTERPIECE’s Endgame, premiering in October) plays Mr. Knightley, Emma’s shrewd and attractive neighbor, who provides a welcome counterpart to headstrong Emma. Fresh and funny, this perceptive adaptation by Sandy Welch (Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, North and South) brings Jane Austen’s comic masterpiece to life.

Cranford 2 (2 x 60)

The BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated drama, Cranford, starring Dame Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love), Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Fingersmith), Francesca Annis (Jane Eyre, Reckless), and Eileen Atkins (Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Gosford Park), returns as a two-part sequel, Cranford 2. The original drama chronicled a small Cheshire market town in the early 1840s on the cusp of great change. The BBC and WGBH co-production in association with Chestermead Ltd, picks up the story in 1844. New faces coming to the close-knit town include Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean), Tom Hiddleston (Wallander), and Tim Curry (Spamalot). Based on the novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford 2 is written by Heidi Thomas (I Capture the Castle, Madame Bovary).       

Other shows  announced for the early 2010 lineup are:  

  • A Small Island [based on the Orange Prize winning novel by Andrea Levy]   
  • Framed, adapted from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s (The Last Enemy) children’s novel 
  • Sharpe’s Peril  & Sharpe’s Challenge, with Sean Bean playing Bernard Cornwall’s character 
  • The 39 Steps, starring Rupert Penry Jones (Persuasion, Burn Up, MI-5 [Spooks]) as Richard Hannay, in this classic John Buchan mystery.

[see the PBS site for more information on all these new shows – it makes one ALMOST long for winter…]

*And because we cannot get enough of all things Austen,  see this BBC article on filming Emma in Chilham

*And a lovely 5-minute YouTube montage of production shots here:

*And full cast information at the Imdb site

emma bbc emma

Romola Garai as Emma  and Johdi May as Miss Taylor [Ms. May was in the  The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003) with Ciaran Hinds


Jonny Lee Miller as Knightley [Miller also played Edmund Bertram in the Rozema Mansfield Park – this seems to always be left off his credits – we continue to live in hope that he will be as good a Knightley as Richard Armitage would have been!]

[above photographs from]

emma bbc blake ritson

and “dear” Mr. Elton will be played by Blake Ritson [who was Edmund Bertram in the 2007 Mansfield Park – are we sufficiently confused?!

emma bbc rupert evans

And finally then there is Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill [Evans played Margaret Hale’s brother Frederick in North & South [with the aforementioned Richard Armitage…(sigh!)]


PS:  this added July 9, 2009 – the BBC has the trailer for this new Emma now available online.  Go to the BBC site here, scroll through the carousel and click on “Emma” to view the trailer – quite lovely! [and thanks Mae for the heads-up!]

Posted by Deb

8 thoughts on “Masterpiece announces BBC “Emma”

  1. Thanks for the heads up and details of all these shows. I really look forward to the new Emma. Always happy to see new renditions of Jane’s work!


  2. Hi Arti! thanks for visiting – I agree about enjoying new Austen adaptations – they each bring something to the table.

    I’ve just seen your review of Easy Virtue, which is on my short list to see [who can resist Colin Firth in anything] – so glad that you found it so enjoyable – I agree about I’ve Loved you So Long – just a lovely movie, beautifully told, and Kristin Scott Thomas is really quite amazing – an incredible talent, and a movie everyone should see…
    Take care Arti,


  3. I wonder that every time a Jane Austen-based television drama is announced, Richard Armitage is immediately bandied around as “the only eligible British actor” good enough for the role.

    I really like Mr Armitage, too, but I’ve been watching this and find Jonny Lee Miller’s gentle George Knightley a wondrous respite from Richard A’s eternally furrowed brow.


    • Yes, I don’t disagree with you! though I have not seen any of the episodes as yet – I wrote that post in June when Emma pictures were first announced – I do think that Armitage was made for the role of Knightley, who I see as fairly serious and though perhaps not with a “furrowed” brow ALL the time,- but I also like Jonny Lee Miller very much [have you seen him in the “Byron” from a few years ago?] – and I look forward to seeing him here, in what appears to be a more lighthearted production. Are you enjoying this adaptation?

      Thank you for visiting and commenting – would love to hear your full review!


  4. I agree with Deb that Armitage’s brow isn’t “eternally furrowed.” Having viewed the finale episodes of the Richard Curtris BBC comedy series, [i]The Vicar of Dibley[/i], I’ve seen the lighter, comical side of Armitage’s talents and have no doubt he could have pulled off Mr. Knghtley, had he been called upon to do so.



  5. Yes Mae! Armitage is terrific in the last two Dibley shows – what a coup for Dawn French to get him on there! – and he IS very funny – a nice change from the “furrowed brow” indeed! I highly recommend seeing them – and it works even if you have never seen any of the other shows…


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