Andrew Davies, first noted by Jane Austen fans for his Emmy nominated adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1995) has since then also scripted Jane Austen's Emma for the same producers. Andrew Davies is also noted for his other literary adaptations including works by Thackary, Defoe, Dumas and Elliot.
The idea for writing one of Jane Austen's works came after previewing the 1986 version of Northanger Abbey.He remembers the evening well: 'It was an interesting, quirky adaptation adn afterwards Sue [Birtwistle - Producer of Pride and Prejudice and Emma] turned to me and said: "I know what I'd like to do: Pride and Prejudice and make it look like a fresh, lively story about real people.....Would you like to adapt it?" It's a favorite book of mine, so I said, "Yes," and that was that.'
Sue Birwistle and Andrew Davies first met when she was his student at Coventry College of Education. "It was always my ambition when I was a lecturer that my pupils would eventually get powerful positions and be able to employ me in my old age," he explained. "But Sue seems to have been the only one that's managed to do it!" The two later worked on Pride and Prejudice. "I thought it would get good reviews," Davies said, but admits "I was absolutely astonished it turned out to be such a big hit [with] all sorts of people."
Regarding Jane Austen's works, Davies says, "there is a certain amount of liberty that you can take. You can't change the actual story, but there's always some hidden scenes in the book that Austen didn't get around to writing herself, and it's nice to fill in some of the little gaps." Davies says he had great material to work with, since Austen "writes the best plots and characters, and her dialogue is terrific. So while there's this little craze I'm just going to take advantage of it for all I'm worth."
Northanger Abbey (2000) will be his third time scripting one of Jane Austen's novels, and as her biographer Deirdre Le Faye says, "The 1986 version was awful. Andrew Davies certainly could not do worse than that."
For an interview with Andrew Davies regarding his work on other Austen adaptations, see the A&E website. Another interview with Andrew Davies can be found at A&E's Vanity Fair site.
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