The classic Parade’s End tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) is being given the classy BBC/HBO treatment in a five-part miniseries scheduled to air in 2012. The script was penned by playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Tom Stoppard, and the cast list is mighty promising, too, including Miranda Richardson, Rebecca Hall, Rupert Everett, and new Clan Murphy fave, Benedict Cumberbatch, the talented star of the BBC Sherlock. (Sadly, Sherlock was egregiously overlooked by the 2011 Emmys!)
Parade’s End is on the Modern Library’s list of top 100 English language novels, along with Ford’s other masterpiece, The Good Soldier. Here’s the Wikipedia plot summary:
The novels chronicle the life of Christopher Tietjens, “the last Tory,” a brilliant government statistician from a wealthy land-owning family who is serving in the British Army during World War I. Tietjens may or may not be the father of the child of his wife, Sylvia, a flippant socialite who seems intent on ruining him. Meanwhile, Tietjens’ incipient affair with Valentine Wannop, a high-spirited suffragette, has not been consummated, despite what all their friends believe. The two central novels follow Tietjens in the army in France and Belgium, as well as Sylvia and Valentine in their separate paths over the course of the war.
Here’s what Tom Stoppard has to say about the project, from the BBC website:
The BBC came to me with the idea of adapting Ford’s novel for TV two years ago. I had never read it and I fell in love with it. Parade’s End has been my main pre-occupation since then. The title covers a quartet of books set among the upper class in Edwardian England, mostly from 1911 to the end of the Great War. I spent about 18 months on the dramatisation of the novel into five 60-minute episodes, working with the BBC producer Piers Wenger and with Damien Timmer of Mammoth, the independent production company. I confess I feel a bit proud of it, and now that Susanna White has come on board to direct Parade’s End I’m thoroughly excited about it.
It’s exciting to think that this adaptation may help bring the works of Ford, a great Catholic novelist as well as one of the English language’s great stylists, back into the reading public’s consciousness.