Is the BBC’s new ‘Les Misérables’ worth watching? Here’s what the reviews say

The BBC’s new adaptation of Les Misérables began in the UK last night.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel, the epic new six-part mini-series has been written by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and PrejudiceMr Selfridge).

The all-star cast includes Dominic West (The Hour) as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo (Spooks) as Javert and Lily Collins (Tolkien) as Fantine, alongside The Durrells actor Josh O’Connor as Marius and new The Crown star Olivia Colman as Madame Thénardier.

Watch the trailer:

First published in 1862, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former convict unable to escape the shadow of his past life, and his relentless pursuit by the chilling police officer Javert.

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews for the mini-series to help you decide if you’d like to watch it:


“Song-free adaptation of Victor Hugo novel exudes confidence. On its own terms, Andrew Davies’s adaptation is fine – the problem lies with Victor Hugo’s source material.” ★★★ – The Independent


“The two main difficulties with this adaptation? So far it doesn’t feel very French. And it hasn’t yet achieved the emotional grandeur of the musical versions. As period dramas go, there’s none of the humour of Dickens or Austen and none of the glamour of Tolstoy.” – The Guardian


“…catches the spirit of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. The BBC hasn’t stinted on the budget in this opener, which set out the book’s key themes and the human drama at its core.” ★★★★ – iNews


“It’s not a bold reimagining, nor a modernised or stylised one. It hasn’t been sexed up or made grittier for a 21st century audience. It’s a faithful, well-made, and yes, perhaps unadventurous, retelling of a collection of stories whose protest against injustice will, as Hugo wrote, always serve a purpose.” – Den of Geek


“Andrew Davies’ adaptation is on song, even without the tunes.” ★★★★ – The Telegraph


“What Les Mis does so well is tell a complicated story, without the airs and graces many of its predecessors used.” ★★★★ – Metro


“There are strong performances from famous actors, gorgeous cinematography and perfectly assembled period sets. If you like that sort of thing, sit down with the family and tuck in.” ★★★ – Financial Times


“Some powerful performances suggest this BBC series will be worth the investment of time and concentration.” ★★★★ – The Mirror


Les Misérables will air in the USA in spring 2019 on Masterpiece on PBS.

Les Miserables is available on DVD on Amazon.