THREE major TV dramas, six interviews and some serious swooning.
The Mayfair Hotel in London was the venue yesterday for the launch of ITV1’s new Jane Austen season.
We saw chunks of Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion before talking to the stars of each adaptation.
Billie Piper plays Fanny Price in Mansfield Park with Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey.
But I suspect the biggest screen impact may involve the spirited Sally Hawkins and Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones.
They star as Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth (pictured below right) in a sizzling screen version of Persuasion.
It may upset Austen purists with scenes slightly “sexed up” for a modern day audience, including a passionate – and unscripted – kiss between Anne and the Captain.
All three films star some of the brightest and best of Britain’s young acting talent, as well as a sprinkling of familiar faces.
Having seen them on screen in period costume, it’s always surprising to then be confronted with the casts in their usual 2007 outfits.
As well as talking about her Austen role, Billie confirmed she is in talks to play a call girl in a TV version of Belle de Jour, about the adventures of a prostitute who described her exploits online.
“I haven’t signed any contracts yet but it’s definitely something I’m considering,” she told me.
I’m off to the theatre tonight to see Billie in a play called Treats, ahead of its West End opening next week.
It co-stars her current partner – Lewis star Laurence Fox – and Kris Marshall, famed for My Family, Murder City, Love Actually and those BT ads.
It’s Billie’s theatre debut – she made her first appearance on stage earlier this week. You can read an early review here.
Sipping water to ease her voice during yesterday’s interviews, Billie confessed: “It’s really hard. This is my first theatre production – I’m quite stressed about it. It’s a tough time and I’m still trying to find my feet.”
She also spoke, again, about Doctor Who, as you can read in today’s MEN.
The new adaptations begin on ITV1 from next month. If you’re an Austen fan, let me know what you think.