Former screen star Glenda Jackson is returning to acting after 20 years, in a "mash-up" adaptation of novels by French writer Emile Zola.
The first instalment of Emile Zola: Blood Sex and Money, will be broadcast every day over an "intensive" week on Radio 4 in November.
Two more week-long seasons in the adaptation of Zola's once-shocking 20-volume novel series, Les Rougon-Macquart, will follow at six-monthly intervals.
Double Oscar-winner Jackson's last acting role was in 1992, before she won a seat in Parliament as the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate.
The Women In Love and A Touch of Class actress called time on her political career before the recent General Election.
She will star as 104-year-old Adelaide Fouque, alongside Robert Lindsay and Murdered By My Boyfriend actress Georgina Campbell, in the production.
The drama, which delves into Fouque's mind as she sits in an asylum, will draw the listener "into 19th Century France and the tragic, farcical reign of Napoleon III, as it marches forward towards a modern, industrialised society".
Radio 4 called the adaptation "an unflinching portrait of society, the frankness and fury of which is still relevant to contemporary Britain."
The broadcaster also announced that Jeremy Irons will star in a two-part adaptation of the Iris Murdoch novel The Sea, The Sea, as part of its drama line-up, wh ile Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory will play Murdoch herself in Murdoch's Dream, "a romp through the novelist's spectacularly wild behaviour and distinguished writing career".
In other programming announced for the station, Professor Mary Beard will tackle the subject of grey hair.
The TV presenter, who herself sports long, grey locks and has been attacked over her appearance, will talk to hairdressers, historians and "high profile members of the 'grey brigade' " in Glad To Be Grey.
Meanwhile, broadcaster Lauren Laverne will be presenting a late Night Woman's Hour series, with Jane Garvey, for a month over the summer.