Monday 5 December 2016

Incestuous affair 'crucial' to Tolstoy TV drama

Lorna Cooper in London

Published 30/12/2015 | 02:30

Callum Turner plays Anatole Kuragin while Tuppence Middleton is his sister Helene. Photo: PA
Callum Turner plays Anatole Kuragin while Tuppence Middleton is his sister Helene. Photo: PA

Andrew Davies has said the incestuous liaison between Helene and Anatole Kuragin is "crucial" to his adaptation of 'War And Peace'.

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'Dickensian' star Tuppence Middleton and Callum Turner of 'Glue' play the siblings seen in bed together in the new version of Leo Tolstoy's novel.

Talking to the 'Radio Times' about his writing process, the 79-year-old Welshman said: "I often say I just 'copy out the best bits'."

However, he acknowledged it is not always apparent what the "best bits" may be.

"For instance, in 'War And Peace', brother and sister Helene and Anatole are in an incestuous relationship, but Tolstoy indicates this so subtly that most readers, including me, at first reading, miss it altogether.

"But this relationship, and their attitude to it, is so crucial to our understanding of them that for me, at least, it needs to be on the screen."

The BBC One drama has a cast that includes 'Downton' star Lily James, Jim Broadbent and Gillian Anderson.

Davies, who wrote 'A Very Peculiar Practice' and children's series 'Educating Marmalade', is also famous for adapting the acclaimed 1990 BBC version of 'House of Cards' starring Ian Richardson.

He had never read 'War And Peace' until he was asked to consider adapting it for TV.

"I took it with me on holiday, and you know what? Once you get into it, it's a page-turner," he said.

"Great characters, thrilling action scenes, betrayals and a happy ending for some. What's not to like?"

War And Peace is on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.

Irish Independent

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