I thought I’d already posted this…

…but I’d actually posted the CASTING press release instead. So, for the sake of completeness, the official BBC Emma 4 press release!

Emma 4 – On Location

There’s a nice selection of behind-the-scenes photos from Emma 4‘s Chilham location posted at the Republic of Pemberley.  They provide a nice preview of some of the costuming!

Emma 4 filming in Chilham…

There’s video available at the Kentish Express, chronicling the transformation of Chilham into the village of Highbury!

Video: Chilham taken back in time for Jane Austen’s Emma

by Katie Alston

Charming Chilham has been taken back in time for the latest version of Jane Austen’s Emma.

The town square has been chosen as a backdrop for the costume drama which will be shown on BBC One in the autumn.

Keira Knightley’s best friend Romola Garai plays the leading lady, alongside Trainspotting’s Jonny Lee Miller and veteran actor Michael Gambon.

Crews arrived in the village last week to build sets and prepare the area for the start of filming on Tuesday.

They are expected to shoot in the square, in front of the local school, in the churchyard and at the village hall until Saturday.

The area has been transformed into an authentic 19th century setting, with gravel and straw hiding road markings, and burglar alarms being boxed in.

Horse and carts have replaced parked cars, and period costumes worn in place of jeans and jumpers.

With the square cut off from traffic, residents have been forced to leave their cars in the town’s lower carpark.

But to ease safety concerns, 24-hour security has been enlisted to patrol the area and police have assigned an officer to the shoot.

The film crew have also put in provisions to collect residents’ bins on rubbish day and have offered to carry shopping bags from the ca rpark at the bottom of the hill up to the front doors which are now backdrops to the romantic comedy.

Residents were sent letters telling them of filming plans back in January and no objections were raised.

Emma 4 Locations

Here’s an article from YourCanterbury.co.uk about Emma 4 locations:

BBC’s Emma to start filming in Chilham next week

Picturesque Chilham will provide the set for the BBC’s latest costume drama, a four-part serialisation of Jane Austen’s Emma.

Popular with location directors looking for a picture perfect English village, Chilham will stand in for the fictional village of Highbury in Surrey, the setting of Austen’s romantic comedy tale of matchmaking gone awry.

The large scale production, the latest in a series of popular period dramas commissioned by the BBC, will feature veteran actor Michael Gambon as Emma’s neurotic father, and Train Spotting star Johnny Lee Miller as Emma’s friend Mr Knightley.

The title role will be taken by Romola Garai, star of Atonement and Daniel Deronda, and the production also features Green Wing star Tamsin Greig.

The four day shoot starts in Chilham next week when a BBC film crew will transform several streets, the churchyard and the central square into a 19th century village.

A fountain will be constructed in the centre of the square, while roads including Taylor Hill, Church Hill and The Street will be laid with a gravel covering to hide the street markings, with all vehicles removed from the affected area.

Parish councillor Yvonne White said: “It’s very exciting. Chilham is quite often used for filming. Four years ago we had Agatha Christie team filming here, so people are used to a bit of inconvenience.

“But the BBC crews are very good. Generally they compensate people for their trouble and are very accommodating, and try not to disrupt village life too much. Everyone enjoys it really.

“The square is going to be closed to traffic because obviously it has to represent a picture perfect period village.”

First published in December 1815, Emma follows the fortunes of the eponymous heroine as she attempts to set up her friends in love matches that don’t always go to plan.

The novel has been adapted by award-winning writer Sandy Welch, who is responsible for a string of BBC hits including Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, and North And South.

This production will be the first time Emma has been screened as a serialisation since the 1970s.

The novel’s last screen outings were both in 1996 when ITV made a single-episode drama, starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong, while Gwyneth Paltrow starred as Emma in an Oscar-nominated film version by Miramax the same year.

POSTED: 08/04/2009 06:00:00

More on Emma 4

Here’s the official casting press release from BBC.

For what it’s worth, there’s an IMDB page set up for the adaptation.  🙂

Laurel Ann has also posted a nice summary of information and opinions on this newest  “Emma” offering.

Various sources report that additional cast will include Tasmin Greig as Miss Bates, Jodhi May as Mrs. Weston, and Robert Bathurst as Mr. Weston.

So far, so good.

Emma 4 News…

From the Telegraph:

Romola Garai to play Emma in BBC’s latest Jane Austen adaptation

For years she has languished in her friend Keira Knightley’s shadow, but actress Romola Garai has finally attained leading lady status with the starring role in the BBC’s latest Jane Austen adaptation, a production of Emma.

By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Last Updated: 1:32PM BST 04 Apr 2009

Romola Garai: BBC finds leading lady for final Jane Austen adaptation
British actress Romola Garai will play the heroine of Emma in a lavish BBC One costume drama to be screened in the autumn.

Garai will play the “handsome, clever and rich” heroine in a lavish BBC One costume drama to be screened in the autumn.

The 26-year-old was cast as Knightley’s younger sister in the Oscar-nominated film Atonement and the two actresses are firm friends. However, they have frequently found themselves in competition for the same roles. Knightley beat Garai to the part of Lara in ITV’s adaptation of Doctor Zhivago in 2002 and to Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice.

Emma will be Garai’s highest profile role to date after appearances in several television dramas, including Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda.

The daughter of a banker, she was raised in Hong Kong and Singapore before attending a boarding school in England. She is currently combining her acting work with studying for an Open University degree.

“I’m incredibly excited and honoured to be taking on the role of Emma, who is arguably Jane Austen’s greatest heroine. I’ve loved the book for many years and she is a character very close to my heart – so it’s a great privilege to now be playing her,” she said.

The high calibre cast of Emma includes Sir Michael Gambon as the matchmaking heroine’s doting father and Jonny Lee Miller as her suitor, Mr Knightley. Filming begins next week at locations in Kent and Surrey.

The BBC promises a “fresh, witty and perceptive take on a timeless tale” last serialised by the corporation in 1972 and turned into a Hollywood film starring Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996. It will be shown in four hour-long episodes and will be the BBC’s last Austen adaptation for several years, after executives decided to replace ‘bonnet dramas’ with a focus on the 20th century.

Emma News Roundup

To recap…

It appears that rumors about a new BBC version of Emma are true. In November, 2008, it was thought that BBC might have greenlighted a new, four-part Emma adaptation written by Sandy Welch. According to the rumors, it would air in 2009. The screenplay has apparently been on hold since the mid-1990s:

TV drama kings fall out over Jane Austen

The London Independent
Jul 14, 1996
By Clare Garner

 

It’s a saga that surpasses any literary classic: the rivalry of two television drama kings. And the prize is the latest Jane Austen TV spectacular.The winner – this time – is Nick Elliot, head of drama at the ITV network, who has just succeeded in the race to bring Austen’s Emma to the small screen. Not only that: he has lured away the whole production team responsible for the BBC’s world-beating version last year of Pride and Prejudice.The screenwriter Andrew Davies, the producer Sue Birtwistle and their back-up staff are taking their skills to the commercial channel and its story of Emma Woodhouse’s misplaced matchmaking. They were the team who brought to life on the BBC those perfect Georgian country house settings, lush costumes and formal dances that thrilled audiences around the world as they witnessed the wooing of the fiery Lizzie Bennet by the arrogant Mr Darcy.The loser is Michael Wearing, BBC head of drama serials,one of the corporation’s most talented executives and the man responsible for Pride and Prejudice.

He might have had the Davies-Birtwistle Emma as a world-beating sequel – indeed he was offered it – but he had already promised the adaptation to someone else. “It was a very, very difficult situation,” he said yesterday. “I had already commissioned Sandy Welch, one of our BBC writers, to do Emma. We really were in a fix.” He felt bound to honour his word.

When the P&P team offered the project to Elliot at ITV he grabbed it, and the TV world is aware of the piquancy of his triumph. Wearing and Elliot are two of the most bitter personal rivals in television. Two years ago Wearing lost half his BBC job as head of drama series and serials.

To head drama series, and to sharpen BBC popular drama, John Birt, the director-general, brought in the managing director of London Weekend Television, who had overseen London’s Burning and The Knock. His name was Nick Elliot.

Wearing resigned at once. But 150 staff in the drama department, including leading producers, signed a petition in protest and he was persuaded to stay. And it was Elliot who ended up leaving last year, after only nine months, amid rumours that he was less than happy with the Birt regime.

Wearing complains that Elliot was the man who approved BBC programmes dreamt up before his arrival, only to defect back to ITV. “I feel that quite a lot of what’s been on the screen this year is actually the product of the time before he came.

“That was the great joke in the drama department. He comes for nine months and walks off knowing the entire BBC development scheme. We’d put Emma into motion almost a year before it became clear than Andrew Davies was doing his version for Elliot.”

Elliot is unrepentant. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said yesterday. “At the height of its success with P&P the BBC was turning away their star producer and their star writer.”

The single-episode, pounds 2.5m film of Emma, the highlight of ITV’s autumn schedule, is being shot at the moment. It stars Kate Beckinsale as the headstrong heroine, plus Mark Strong (Tosker Cox in Our Friends in the North), Samantha Morton (Tracy in Band of Gold) and the character players Prunella Scales and Bernard Hepton.

But the drama between the rival executives is just as fascinating for those who know them.

A senior drama producer who saw them at the BBC said: “They are like chalk and cheese. There was Elliot in his suit, looking as if he could be selling widgets. He would call departmental briefings with slides and market research and tell us that BCs don’t like Cracker. By contrast, Wearing has never been known to hold a meeting with more than two people. He doesn’t look like an executive. He thinks of himself as a maverick, an artist fighting for quality drama with a political edge.”

Andrew Davies, Wearing’s friend and BBC protege for 20 years, is suffering mild culture shock from his defection. At just two hours, which with advertisements comes to 103 minutes, his adaptation has to be very tight. “I wish the actresses could have worn the ads on their dresses like footballers do, so we didn’t have to have commercial breaks,” he said yesterday.

 

Expenses are tighter at ITV too. “We don’t get chauffeur-driven cars – we have to ride bikes. It’s fish paste sandwiches. There’s no margin for excess. We have to buy our own champagne. We’re really suffering.”

There’s also a “Bollywood” Emma in the works.  According to BollySpice.com: “Anil Kapoor has announced that he will be producing a version of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ for [daughter Sonam] to star in…” Sonam Kapoor herself has publicly mentioned her desire to star in an Emma adaptation on at least one occasion. The Kapoors confirmed the film – titled “Ayesha” after its Emmalike heroine – in February, 2009. More details here and here.

More on the “new” BBC Emma plus drama…

According to the following report, production will begin this spring.  No word on casting…

Here!

Also, Heartbreak Productions is presenting their dramatization of Emma throughout the UK  in February, March, and this summer…

Winter/Spring Dates

Waltz your way through picnics, parties and posh frocks in this classic Regency rom-com.

After a winter tour throughout UK theatres, this brilliantly conceived rom-com classic bursts vibrantly in to the open air. Dip into the gossip and squabbles, grapple with the riddles, blunders and misunderstandings and finally, revel in the glorious romance of this delightful and charming story from the masters of classic adaptations.

Famed for incisive wit and social commentary, Emma is also about the complexities of imagination versus reality and the overriding power of love and affection.

A clever, rich, bored and “slightly” spoiled young woman, Emma throws herself in to the perils of mis-matchmaking in this world-renowned and well-loved Regency rom-com. Emma is Jane Austen’s most realistic heroine trying to do her very best and, in true Austen fashion, getting it very wrong!

Live music, dance and audience interaction will abound as – from the engaging yet exasperating Emma to the sympathetic yet quintessential bore, Miss Bates – the multi-talented cast recreate the rich and varied personalities of some of the most vibrant characters from English literature and bring them vividly to life. “

More…