Despite it taking the 200th birthday of Dickens and the imminent arrival of the Olympics to encourage the BBC to indulge in the literary, 2012 is shaping up to be a promising year for British television. The recent adaptation of Great Expectations garnered praise from many quarters for providing a fresh twist on a classic text, whilst remaining largely faithful to the source material. Similarly, The Mystery of Edwin Drood has received acclaim for taking on the unenviable task of writing a new ending to Dickens’ famously unfinished novel. With these two already already chalked up as wins for the BBC, they will no doubt be hoping that the rest of their planned adaptations provide equal success. In the build-up to the Olympics, productions of 3 of Shakespeare’s oft-maligned history plays are getting the BBC treatment: Richard II, Henry IV (Parts I & II) along with Henry V are being shown between April and June, with Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston playing the respective kings. Additionally with the 20th anniversary of Phillip K Dick’s death, a two-part miniseries based on the accalimed Sci-Fi writer’s tale The Man in the High Castle, directed by Ridley Scott will be shown over the summer.
It is not just on the small screen that there will be a wealth of literary goodness; the silver screen will be adapting many classic works over the course of the year. Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse has already proven a hit at the box office, whilst this week has seen the release of the film version of Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-Potter film lead role.In what is, for my money, the most intriguing prospect this year, Ralph Fiennes’ long-awaited film Coriolanus hits our screens in the next month. The film takes the Shakespearean play about a Roman general and places the plot in a modern day Eastern European warzone and promises to be an interesting take on a classic. Later this year, films based on Anna Karenina, On The Road (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, no less) and The Life of Pi will be getting the Hollywood treatment, before the year ends with the release of the eagerly anticipated Baz Luhrmann directed version of The Great Gatsby starring Leo DiCaprio and Toby MacGuire. All in all, 2012 could be a great year for film.