The Secret Life of Books

FrankensteinNo date as to when the series will be broadcast yet, only that Cerys Matthews, singer & broadcaster and Bidisha (journalist and author) are among the presenters joining actor Simon Russell Beale on BBC Four’s new series The Secret Life of Books on the BBC which is being produced in partnership with The Open University.

The series will examine original texts, manuscripts, letters and diaries to uncover the story behind six classic books.

Cassian Harrison, channel editor for BBC Four, said: “The Secret Life Of Books is a celebration of some of the most influential works of fiction in the world. We’ve gathered together six incredibly interesting writers and performers to offer us their own deeply personal take on famous and much-loved classics.”

Television dramatist Tony Jordan will examine Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, looking at how the author’s life, childhood memories and troubled relationships led him to give protagonist Pip a happy ending.  He will explore how Dickens created cliff-hangers similar to the storytelling techniques of modern-day soap operas.

Russell Beale will look at Shakepeare’s First Folio of plays; Bidisha will “ask awkward questions” about Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; Matthews will explore the Mabinogion, a collection of medieval Welsh tales; Virginia Woolf expert Dr Alexandra Harris will study Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway; and scientist Professor Alice Roberts will explore Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Interviewees across the series include theatre and film director Sam Mendes; writer and literary critic Terry Eagleton; and director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner.