Andrew's Austentatious Adaptations; Television WARWICKSHIRE'S King of Costume Drama Andrew Davies First Made Jane Austen Sexy with Pride and Prejudice and Is Now Making Northanger Abbey Leap from Page to Screen. TV Writer MARION McMULLEN Finds out the Secret of Bringing Austen's World to a Modern Audience

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Byline: MARION McMULLEN

HE famously put Colin Firth in a soaking wet shirt and had women drooling watching Pride and Prejudice and is now introducing fantasy scenes to Northanger Abbey.

Award-winning Kenilworth writer Andrew Davies is proud of his reputation for "sexing up" the classics and says: "It's not too bad to have a reputation for sexing up the classics. In fact, most people when they actually see the thing will say that none of the scenes is gratuitous.

"I feel I'm bringing out the sexual content which is inherent in the material. It's just that in the 19th century, it was the convention never to write directly about sexual matters.

"I'm just giving it a bit of a nudge. I don't mind about that reputation at all - there are worse things to have said about you."

Andrew's adaptations from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens to Sarah Waters and Alan Hollingshurst have made him one of Britain's most popular dramatists and his TV successes include Bleak House, Dr Zhivago, Tipping the Velvet and Daniel Deronda.

He also co-wrote both feature film adaptations of Bridget Jones's Diary and is now working his magic touch on ITV's new production of Northanger Abbey tomorrow.

The cast includes Midlander Felicity Jones, best known as Emma Grundy from Radio Four's The Archers, Liam Cunningham, Carey Mulligan, from Bleak House, and J J Feild.

They will all be helping to bring Jane Austen's world to life and Andrew points out: "One of the things that I've always thought was a drag in so many period adaptations is that they are always buttoned up to the neck in so many clothes all the time.

"I'm always looking for excuses to get them out of their clothes. I think those things help to remind people that the stories are about real people with bodies as well as minds."

The former Warwick University lecturer explains: "When I'm writing a script one of the things I want most to do is to not make people think all the time 'Oh, I'm watching a great English classic' or 'I'm watching a period drama'. I just want them to think 'Oh, I'm watching a really exciting drama about people like me having adventures'. …