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  M.   August 23, 2008

Lost In Austen is billed as an “ingenious reinvention” of the much-loved novel Pride and Prejudice.

It stars Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price, a modern Londoner with a boring bank job who loses herself in the pages of Pride and Prejudice each night.

One day she finds the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, standing in her bathroom. A secret doorway leads from there to the Bennet household, and the two women swap lives.

While Elizabeth finds a job as a children’s nanny and discovers such modern innovations as the internet, Amanda is plunged into Austen’s fictional world.

Her arrival disrupts the original plot and results in Jane Bennet marrying the clergyman Mr Collins, Lydia Bennet running off with Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy falling in love with Amanda.

Other updates including assigning a Christian name to Mr Bennet – something which Austen never did. In the drama, he reveals himself to be called Claude.

Scenes likely to raise eyebrows among Austen purists include Amanda showing the Bennet sisters her newly waxed bikini line and taking Mr Bingley outside for a “snog”.

The four-part drama co-stars Bond girl Gemma Arterton as Elizabeth, Hugh Bonneville as Mr Bennet and Alex Kingston as Mrs Bennet.

It is one of the highlights of the autumn season and part of executive chairman Michael Grade’s plans to take the commercial broadcaster upmarket, with “fresher, better and higher quality” programming and an emphasis on drama.

ITV has high hopes for the series after a string of flop dramas including Rock Rivals, Echo Beach and The Palace.

Guy Andrews, the scriptwriter, admitted to “mangling the nation’s favourite book in the service of this project” and is braced for criticism. “People may hate it. Belle-lettrists may orchestrate public disembowelments of all concerned. But Lost In Austen is a good idea and an interesting one, and they’re pretty thin on the ground.”

The 1st episode (of four) will be aired on ITV1 on Wednesday, 3rd September, 2008, 9:00PM -10:00PM.

Lost in Austen: Production Stills
Lost in Austen: TV Advertisement
Lost in Austen: TV Presentation