Geoffrey Rush and Liam Neeson in the 1998 non-musical adaptation of Les Misérables

According to Deadline, BBC and Weinstein Television are launching a six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in which viewers definitely won’t hear the people sing. Veteran scribe Andrew Davies (the recent War & Peace miniseries) will adapt Hugo’s nearly 1500-page book and ignore the famous musical that took inspiration from the work. He explained:

Most of us are familiar with the musical version, which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story. I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last by adapting his masterpiece in a six-hour version for the BBC.


In a statement, Harvey Weinstein echoed, “Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is one of the greatest novels of all time—and while the musical is one of my favorites, this will be completely different.”

Sure, they both might as well be saying, “So, please don’t expect ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ you West End dilettantes,” but there are merits to learning Hugo’s original story. For example, those only familiar with the musical will be surprised to discover just how unsympathetic Éponine is, or that the Thenardiers aren’t so much funny as they are totally evil pieces of shit. With a title like Les Misérables, it should come as no surprise that the closer you get to the source material, the worse things tend to get.