ITV reveals which classic novel will be its big period drama adaptation for 2019

The team behind ITV’s upcoming Vanity Fair adaptation are already hard at work on next year’s follow-up.

Vanity Fair has been adapted from English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel as a new seven-part mini-series by Gwyneth Hughes (Dark AngelMiss Austen Regrets).

It’s now been revealed that screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes will reunite with Mammoth Screen, the makers of War & Peace, Poldark and Victoria, for a new version of Tom Jones next year.

Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel has previously been adapted as an Oscar-winning film in 1963, starring Albert Finney, and as a BBC TV adaptation in 1997, starring Max Beesley.

Explaining why she wanted to adapt Tom Jones for television, Gwyneth Hughes told Radio Times: “I hadn’t read the book before, and I think I’d inherited a vague idea that it’s a slightly unpleasant bawdy romp with a lecherous hero and a wimpy girlfriend. How wrong can you be? It turns out that Tom Jones is a great romance, and a rollicking adventure story, full of twists and turns and surprises.

“And the biggest surprise for me was how much sympathy I felt towards both Tom and his beloved Sophia. She’s a great heroine, brave, resourceful and determined to get her man – it’s as much her story as his.

“And Tom: yes, he gets into a lot of scrapes; yes, he has too much sex; and yes, he gets into a few fights, but oh, he’s so young, so good-hearted, and he is alone in the world. In the book, no female is immune to his charm, and perhaps you can tell that I can’t resist him either!”

Damien Timmer, who will executive producer the mini-series, added: “Popular culture has Tom Jones down as a womanising rogue, based on previous adaptations. But Fielding’s original is so much more complex than that: he’s a goodhearted hero, trying to make his way in a world where no one understands the rules, which reminds us very much of today.

“Tackling his story in the 21st century it seems only right to have Gwyneth Hughes, one of our very best female screenwriters, telling his story. One of the first novels ever written, it’s also one of the funniest and best plotted – a huge slice of 18th century life told with gusto and heart.”

He also revealed: “We’re already in early talks with a major star about playing Tom Jones.”

Vanity Fair airs in the UK this autumn on ITV and will premiere in the US as an Amazon Prime Exclusive.

Watch the trailer:

The cast of Vanity Fair is led by Olivia Cooke (Ready Player OneBates Motel) as heroine Becky Sharp, alongside Johnny Flynn (Genius), Martin Clunes (Doc Martin), Frances de La Tour (The History Boys), Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster) and Michael Palin (Monty Python).

Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones novel is available on Amazon.