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BBC1 goes to war

UK pubcaster BBC1 has unveiled a raft of new drama commissions for 2012 and beyond, including a historical series described as one of the channel’s most ambitious ever projects.

War of the Roses, adapted from The Cousins’ War by Philippa Gregory, is set against the backdrop of the war between two dynasties vying for the English throne in the 15th Century. The conflict is seen through the eyes of the women behind the men who would shape history.

The series is being adapted by Emma Frost and produced by Company Pictures. It is due in 2013.

The Secret of Crickley Hall (3×60’) is an adaptation based on James Herbert’s ghost story about a haunted house. It is adapted and directed by Joe Ahearne (Doctor Who) and is due to air this Halloween. It is produced by BBC Drama Production North.

Slated for Christmas 2012, The Moonstone (3×60’) tells the story of the first fictional detective, Sergeant Cuff of Scotland Yard, who is called to solve the mystery behind the theft of a precious stone.

Ed Whitmore (Waking the Dead, CSI) is adapting Wilkie Collins’s  adventure, which is also produced by BBC Drama.

Company Pictures has also been commissioned to produce Truckers (6×60’), a character-based drama written by William Ivory (Common as Muck) about a group of men and women who work for the same haulage company.

BBC1 has also ordered Room on the Broom (1×30’) from Magic Light Pictures (The Gruffalo). Based on the book by Julia Donaldson, it is the story of a witch who invites a collection of animals to join her on her broom, to the dismay of her cat.

Announcing the new commissions at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London today, Ben Stephenson, BBC controller of drama, said: “BBC1 is the home of big characters, big emotions and big stories – and it is these three components that will define drama on the channel over the next few years.”

The pubcaster has also announced that Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid will star in romantic comedy Antony and Cleopatra. The six-part series, produced by Red Production Company and written by Sally Wainwright (Scott and Bailey), it is about two widowers who reignite the feelings they had for each other as teenagers following a chance reunion.

Death in Paradise, a BBC coproduction with France Television, is returning for a second season, while Sean Bean (Sharpe) will star in the third season of Jimmy McGovern’s Accused.

A third season of Luther, which stars Idris Elba (The Wire), is also due in 2012/13, with one of its stars, Warren Brown, set to appear in writer Stephen Butchard’s Savage, about a police officer’s determination to seek revenge for the death of a colleague.

Meanwhile, Prisoners’ Wives tells the story of four women struggling to cope while a man in each of their lives is behind bars.

Hayley Atwell (The Pillars of the Earth) will return to television to star in Restless, an adaptation of William Boyd’s spy thriller, while Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks) is taking the lead role in Ripper Street.

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