Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is going to be a miniseries.
One of the most popular fantasy novels of the last decade is set to become a six-part miniseries for the BBC. Susanna Clarke’s excellent historical fantasy epic—Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell—will be adapted for television by Peter Harness and directed by Sherlock and Doctor Who alum Toby Haynes. For fans of historical fantasy, and alternate universes, the Napoleonic Wars, and awesome magic, this is excellent news. No word yet on when the series is set to air.
I shrieked when I saw this. And then flailed and squeaked. I love this book so much and if it can be put together well, it will be great. It’s dark, humorous, has some utterly amazing scenes and characters and the world is so huge and well-crafted with so many awesome facets and features… and yeah, I probably should stop there.
Anyhow, here’s my impromptu casting for the two main characters.
David Tennant for Jonathan Strange.
Setting aside that everyone sees the Doctor when they see him- I think Tennant could nail this role. Strange is sarcastic, charming, has something of a short attention span until he picks up magic, is very stubborn, and has a charisma that endears him (for a while) to even the finicky Mr Norrell. And when he gets angry, he’s positively a force of nature. With the right direction, Tennant can pull off cold and furious anger like no one else. Yes, his hair’s not quite red, but there’s hair dye for that.
For Mr Norrell:
This one is trickier, since Norrell has a lot of sides to him that would be somewhat spoilerish to outline here, but suffice to say they will take a skilled actor to portray and balance them all. If it weren’t for the problem of height (Norrell is supposed to be a tiny pinched-looking man), I’d really like Hugh Laurie for the role.
(As far as just looks go, I do think Toby Jones is more how Norrell is supposed to look, but I don’t really know enough about his acting)
As for the rest of the rather large cast (Childermass, Arabella, Drawlight, Lascelles, the Raven King, Honeyfoot and Segundus, Walter and Lady Pole, Stephen Black, the Gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair, etc, etc), there are plenty of possibilities. And it’s always possible this could turn out to be a flop show, or be cancelled, or fall victim to chance in myriad other ways. But I really hope it comes through. With the right actors, this could be nothing short of glorious.