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Vanity Fair

International actress Olivia Cooke leads a stellar cast in the new ITV adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.
Polly Hill who is Head of Drama at ITV, commented: “Vanity Fair is the perfect classic to adapt for ITV, and Gwyneth Hughes’ stunning scripts bring the novel to life in a way that will really connect with a modern audience. The question was always who would be our perfect Becky Sharp and that is undoubtedly Olivia Cooke!”
What is interesting about Becky, is that she is only 19 years old. Alone in the world, she will do what it takes to get herself out of poverty. Obsessed with status and wealth, Becky will stop at nothing to make her way in the world. Witty, mischievous, Becky will be an exciting-to-watch anti-hero.
If any of you have read this book, you will know it is very, very long. ITV have chosen to bring this story to life through a series of seven episodes.
Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair – who’s in it?

Olivia Cooke who plays Becky Sharp, is joined by a star-studded cast in ITV’s new period drama for the new TV season.  Musician and actor Johnny Flynn (Genius) stars as Dobbin, Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Sir Pitt Crawley, Frances de la Tour (The History Boys) as Miss Matilda Crawley, Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster) as Miss Pinkerton and Michael Palin as Thackeray himself.
The ensemble cast also includes Claudia Jessie (Line of Duty) who plays Becky’s confidante Amelia Sedley, with theatrical titan Simon Russell Beale (The Hollow Crown) and Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) as her parents, and David Fynn (School of Rock) as her brother Jos.
Tom Bateman (Murder On The Orient Express) takes the role of Rawdon Crawley and Charlie Rowe (Salvation) plays George Osborne.
Vanity Fair

What’s it all about?

Gwyneth Hughes’ adaptation of Thackeray’s literary classic is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. The story follows modern heroine Becky Sharp as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society.

Gwyneth Hughes | Writer

What Gwyneth has done is to focus on the friendship between Becky and her friend. “My goal was to reach into the heart of Vanity Fair, to follow the simple story of a friendship between two girls from different sides of the tracks. One starts out poor, the other starts out rich. Luck and hard work reverse their fortunes, more than once. Their ending is bittersweet and unforgettable”

Vanity Fair

What is the best way to be a woman?

I personally love period dramas and can’t wait for this to start. In the words of Gwyneth Hughes, “this is a story in which everybody marries the wrong person, and regrets it. A story in which everyone has to learn to be careful what she wishes for. Above all, a story which asks questions: What is the best way to be a woman? What’s the point of being good? In a world of materialism, selfishness and vanity, how can a person hang on to his soul? Have we stopped asking those questions, in the modern world? I don’t think so.”
Vanity Fair

Tonight’s episode…

In a world where everyone is striving for what is not worth having, no-one is more determined to climb to the heights of English Society than Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke). The lowly teaching assistant issues her headmistress, Miss Pinkerton (Suranne Jones), with an ultimatum – pay her properly to teach at the Academy for Young Ladies, or find her a situation elsewhere. But Miss Pinkerton calls Becky’s bluff, deciding to send her off into exile as a country governess. Kindly stockbroker’s daughter Amelia Sedley (Claudia Jessie) takes pity on the poor homeless orphan and offers to take her home. Amelia’s dreams are like any other girl’s – she wants to be married and happy. But Becky wants to make sure tomorrow is better than today, and she seizes this opportunity to better herself. Becky quickly makes herself at home at the Sedley house, where she targets Amelia’s wealthy but oafish brother, Jos (David Fynn). With Amelia’s enthusiastic help, Becky makes it her mission to charm Jos into proposing marriage before the week is out. 67 Synopsis Episode one continued: Amelia persuades her snobbish fiancé, Lieutenant George Osborne (Charlie Rowe), to take the whole party out for a romantic night at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – the perfect chance for Becky to secure Jos’s affections. George brings along his best friend Captain William Dobbin (Johnny Flynn), who is secretly in love with Amelia.

At Vauxhall, Becky hangs on Jos’s every word, willing him to propose to her. But Jos is much more interested in drinking rack punch and ends up making a drunken fool of himself. When George ridicules his choice of a lower class bride and scares Jos off, Becky knows exactly who to blame for scuppering her plans.

Becky must now leave the Sedley house and journey to darkest Hampshire, to take up her position as governess at a rundown old mansion. Alone in the world again, Becky cheers up at the sight of Rawdon Crawley (Tom Bateman), her new master’s dashing youngest son…

“Beware ye olde London Town, Miss Sharp is on her way…”