Gotta tell you, when I slept through all my alarms this morning I thought it was a sign that today was going to be awful. How wrong I was. This might not be the biggest news to come out this week, but to me, it’s the best: Susanna Clarke‘s fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell will be a BBC miniseries.
Excuse me while I freak out.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is an alternative history fantasy novel set in a 19th century England where magic, long since disappeared, mysteriously starts working again. The book is often described as “Harry Potter meets Jane Austen,” and its blending of fantasy elements with the historical is one of the reasons I love is so much.
In fact, it’s my second favorite book of all time (after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is #1 forever), and though nothing has ever come of the long-rumored film version, I’ve never quite given up hope that some sort of adaptation might happen. I’ve said before that it would make the perfect BBC miniseries, not only because there’s too much going on in it to squeeze into two hours, but also because fantasy adaptations and British period dramas are, to paraphrase Zoolander, so hot right now.
And now it’s actually happening. Praise be to the Raven King!
Down to brass tacks: The adaptation will be in six hour-long parts and will be directed by Toby Haynes, who’s done several episodes of Doctor Who (including The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang) and Sherlock‘s The Reichenbach Fall. The series is being written by Peter Harness, who wrote the third season of Wallander.
The show was literally just commissioned, so we probably won’t be getting any casting information for a few months at least. But still. Indulge my whim for completely unrealistic fantasy casting. David Kelly‘s long been my mental vision of Norrell, but he’s dead, so… Donald Sumpter (Maester Luwin in Game of Thrones)? Or Ian Holm. James McAvoy would be a perfect Jonathan Strange, and I love Chiwetel Ejiofor for Stephen Black. I’m going to envision John Childermass as Severus Snape no matter who they cast. As for the Man with the Thistle-Down Hair: Cate Blanchett. You know it’d be awesome.
Someone needs to join me in my excitement lest I start feeling self-conscious. I can’t be the only one to whom this is more-than-excellent news.