Napoleonic DYNAMITE; Leo Tolstoy's Classic Novel War and Peace May Be a Famously Weighty Tome, but Thanks to Screenwriter Andrew Davies, BBC1's New Adaptation Looks Set to Be Anything but Dull. KEELEY BOLGER Chats to the Writer and Key Cast Members about the Shoot 7 TV Treats of the Week

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), January 3, 2016 | Go to article overview

Napoleonic DYNAMITE; Leo Tolstoy's Classic Novel War and Peace May Be a Famously Weighty Tome, but Thanks to Screenwriter Andrew Davies, BBC1's New Adaptation Looks Set to Be Anything but Dull. KEELEY BOLGER Chats to the Writer and Key Cast Members about the Shoot 7 TV Treats of the Week


Byline: KEELEY BOLGER

VERY few novels offer the same sense of achievement to the reader as finishing Leo Tolstoy's epic tome, War And Peace.

But while there's certainly some self-satisfaction to be had in wading through the famous 1869 novel, which also includes historical essays and stands at nearly 1,500 pages, there is an easier way to enjoy the story.

Because, starting on January 3, BBC1 will be showing its starry adaptation.

Written by Andrew Davies, who previously adapted Pride And Prejudice for the mid-Nineties mini-series and more recently Little Dorrit, it shows the epic story of love, war, life and death over six episodes.

"I was absolutely surprised to find out how fresh and lively and modern it felt," recalls Andrew, of getting his teeth into the iconic tale.

"I thought it was going to be this great solemn tome, but there's a lot of humour and affection in it."

As well as 7 TV treats the Happy Valley's James Norton as Andrei Bolkonsky, Downton Abbey's Lily James as Natasha Rostova and Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov, the cast also boasts Jim Broadbent, Gillian Anderson, Adrian Edmondson, Rebecca Front and Tuppence Middleton in hefty supporting roles.

"They are universal characters," adds James Norton, who is also known for Grantchester and Life In Squares. "Tolstoy wrote this incredible soap opera that is so relevant for today."

But what else should you know before the drama unfolds? Here, James, Lily and Andrew Davies give a glimpse of what to expect...

of THE STORY SPANNING eight years, War And Peace tells the story of three young people: kind-hearted Natasha, brooding Andrei, and outcast Pierre - who all live in Russia, a country at war with Napoleon's France.

Although an illegitimate heir, Pierre inherits his wealthy father's fortune and finds himself thrust into Russian high society. Cynical prince Andrei seeks solace in his best friend Pierre's good nature, feeling stifled by his marriage.

Their fates are bound to naive teenager Natasha.

"When I'm reading the novel, I'm looking for whose story it is really, and on War And Peace, it's very much Pierre, Andrei and Natasha," says Andrew.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ANDREW also accentuated a few things that Tolstoy only hinted at in his book when he took on the screenplay.

One of them was the incestuous relationship between brother and sister Anatole and Helene Kuragin, played by Callum Turner and Tuppence Middleton, which has been criticised by historian Simon Schama. …

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Napoleonic DYNAMITE; Leo Tolstoy's Classic Novel War and Peace May Be a Famously Weighty Tome, but Thanks to Screenwriter Andrew Davies, BBC1's New Adaptation Looks Set to Be Anything but Dull. KEELEY BOLGER Chats to the Writer and Key Cast Members about the Shoot 7 TV Treats of the Week
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