Pagford is a quaint, picturesque town in the Cotswolds, a seemingly idyllic English village with a cobbled market square and ancient abbey. Behind the pretty façade, however, is a town at war: rich vs. poor; parents vs. children; wives vs. husbands; and teachers vs. pupils.
Based on renowned author J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, the three-part miniseries THE CASUAL VACANCY is directed by Jonny Campbell (“In the Flesh,” “Eric and Ernie”) and written by Sarah Phelps (“Great Expectations,” “The Crimson Field”).
The talented ensemble of actors is led by Michael Gambon (“The King’s Speech,” the “Harry Potter” series), Julia McKenzie (“Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple,” “Notes on a Scandal”), Keeley Hawes (“Upstairs, Downstairs,” “Ashes to Ashes”), Rory Kinnear (“The Imitation Game,” “Penny Dreadful”), Rufus Jones (“Paddington,” “W1A”), Emily Bevan (“In the Flesh”), Simon McBurney (“Magic in the Moonlight,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and Monica Dolan (“Wolf Hall,” “W1A”), and introduces Abigail Lawrie in her acting debut. Paul Trijbits (“Dancing on the Edge,” “Small Island”), Rick Senat (“Birthday”), Neil Blair and J.K. Rowling executive produce; Ruth Kenley-Letts (Academy Award® winner for “Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life”) produces.
The sizeable task of transforming J.K. Rowling’s 500-page novel into three tight one-hour episodes fell to screenwriter Sarah Phelps. Undaunted, she was given free rein by Rowling to reshape the story, bringing to life the rich cast of colorful characters whose lives were mostly told on the page through their thoughts rather than their actions.
Working with director Jonny Campbell, Phelps developed the characters and themes she felt best fit the screenplay, while ensuring the spirit of the adaptation remained true to the original novel. She was struck by teenager Krystal Weedon’s battle against her personal, social, political and economic environment, and chose to flesh out and spotlight her.
THE CASUAL VACANCY is also the story of a village tearing itself apart, revealing the townspeople’s idiosyncrasies, and addressing social responsibility and one’s response to the poor and disadvantaged. At times darkly funny, it portrays a town whose residents are selfishly stuck in their beliefs and traditions, unaware they have the power to change. This sadly comical selfishness comes to play an important role as events unfold.
THE CASUAL VACANCY is an HBO Miniseries presentation in association with BBC of a Bronte Film and Television production; executive produced by Paul Trijbits, Rick Senat, Neil Blair and J.K. Rowling; produced by Ruth Kenley-Letts; directed by Jonny Campbell; script by Sarah Phelps, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling.