E.M. Forster’s classic novel HOWARDS END is getting an update as Starz has joined BBC to co-produce a project adapted by Oscar-nominated writer Kenneth Lonergan. The limited series will star Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, and Tracey Ullman. Hettie Macdonald is set to direct the series.
The depicts the English social classes through three families: the Schlegels, the Wilcoxes, and the Basts. At the center are Schlegel sisters Margaret (Atwell), Tibby, and Helen, and their growing connection to the Wilcoxes and the Howards End house. Macfadyen has been cast as Henry Wilcox, who denies Margaret the house she is set to inherit, only to then fall in love with and marry her. Ullman will play Aunt Juley Mund, a relation of the Schlegel sisters who stays close to Helen as the sisters drift apart.
Colin Callendar is executive producing alongside City Entertainment’s Joshua D. Maurer and Alexandre Witlin, KippSter Entertainment’s David A. Stern, Playground’s Sophie Gardiner and Scott Huff, and BBC’s Lucy Richer. Laura Hastings-Smith is producing.
Starz has proven adept in recent years with their period dramas after finding success with The White Queen, the upcoming sequel series The White Princess, and Pillars of the Earth (which also starred Atwell). They are currently in production on season three of Outlander and are wrapping up Black Sails.
The new adaptation will inevitably be compared to the 1992 feature adaptation which starred Emma Thompson and Helen Bonham Carter. It received rave reviews and set the bar for Merchant Ivory films. It also netted Thompson an Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA for her performance as eldest sister, Margaret, along with several other nominations.
Atwell is no stranger to period projects as she has also appeared in such period films as Brideshead Revisited (alongside Thompson), The Duchess, and Mansfield Park. She currently stars in ABC’s Conviction which is struggling to find an audience. She is repped by CAA and Hamilton Hodell.
Lonergan penned the Oscar-nominated script for Manchester by the Sea. He previously penned Gangs of New York, You Can Count on Me, and Margaret. The latter two he also directed. He is repped by WME.
Emily J | TV Editor