Preview: BBC One’s Emma 2009 staring Romola Garai Begins on Sunday

Image from Emma 2009: Romola Garai as Miss Emma Woodhouse © BBC 2009 UK bonnet drama viewers are in for a treat this week as the new BBC One miniseries of Jane Austen’s novel Emma premieres in the UK on Sunday, October 4th from 9–10:00 p.m. GMT. This is the first of four episodes of the adaptation by BAFTA award winning writer Sandy Welch (Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, North And South). The esteemed cast is lead by Romola Garai (Atonement, Vanity Fair) as the clever, handsome and rich, but misguided, Miss Woodhouse and Jonny Lee Miller (Byron, Eli Stone, Trainspotting) as Emma’s reproachful neighbor and eventual love interest.

Cast list 

Emma Woodhouse – Romola Garai
George Knightley – Jonny Lee Miller
Mr Woodhouse – Michael Gambon
Harriet Smith – Louise Dylan
Ann Taylor/Weston – Jodhi May
Mr. Weston – Robert Bathurst
Frank Churchill – Rupert Evans
Jane Fairfax – Laura Pyper
Miss Bates – Tamsin Greig
Mrs. Bates – Valerie Lilley
Mr. Elton – Blake Ritson
Augusta Elton – Christina Cole
John Knightley – Dan Fredenburgh
Isabella Knightley – Poppy Miller
Robert Martin – Jefferson Hall
Mrs. Goddard – Veronica Roberts
Mrs. Cole – Liza Sadovy
Miss Martin 1 – Eileen O’Higgins
Miss Martin 2 – Sarah Ovens
Mrs. Churchill – Susie Trayling
Mr. Dixon – Frank Doody
Miss Campbell/Dixon – Amy Loughton

Surprisingly, the advance press on this production by BBC One has been rather slim and may reflect their move away from “traditional 19th century-set ‘bonnet’ dramas in favor of a grittier look at the period and a new focus on other historical eras.”  We hope that despite BBC One’s meager publicity effort that Emma will pull viewers in strong numbers and sway their feeling on future period dramas. Emma certainly has superior production values in its favor with a talented screenwriter, an incredible cast, authentic locations, and beautiful costuming. North American audiences will have to wait to enjoy this miniseries when it airs next winter on Masterpiece Classic. Until then, this Janeite is all anticipation.

Episode 1 – Emma persuades Harriet that she is too good for her suitor, the farmer Robert Martin. Full episode description

Episode 2 – Emma hopes to meet the mysterious, elusive Frank Churchill at a village Christmas party. Full episode description

Further reading:

Original preview trailer from the BBC – Enjoy!

Image courtesy © BBC 2009

14 thoughts on “Preview: BBC One’s Emma 2009 staring Romola Garai Begins on Sunday

  1. I don’t mind a “grittier look” at a period–that’s one of the things I really like about the Amanda Root Persuasion–it’s messing with the story and throwing out Austen’s dialogue and modernizing the characters that makes me choke.

    As always, I’m cautiously optimistic.

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  7. I saw the first two episodes on youtube in October, but fell in love with it and couldn’t bear to watch the rest until I could watch it in proper quality. So I’ve had the DVD on order from Amazon UK, and yesterday it finally arrived. I’ve watched it all now and can truly say that I LOVE this adaptation! I never clicked with the Emma story before – any previous versions I saw just left me flat. But this version is so wonderful! All the actors are cast brilliantly, they’re all great performances, and the locations – SO AMAZING! I want to move to Hartfield immediately. (And have Jonny Lee Miller walk over to visit me every day. *sigh*) I adore this and for me it is the ultimate version of Emma. When something is made so well it really does bring a kind of happiness into my life, so if anyone involved in this production ever reads this, thank you!

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  8. What a great miniseries, one where Emma is as she is, affronting but never aloof, likable and nerve-wrecking but always charmingly Emma. And with a Knightley like that, who wouldn’t see him falling for her and her falling for him.

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