SoHo Fills New Vacancy

A BBC/HBO dramatisation of JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy will premiere on SoHo in May.

“Verdant green fields and a streaming river give way to houses of golden Cotswold stone, glowing photogenically as their owners, busy with village life, are rudely interrupted by an unexpected death … The Casual Vacancy has a definite ring of Midsomer Mugglemarch about it,” quipped The Guardian.

Most critics, including The Guardian’s, thought the mini-series better than the book (which The Telegraph dubbed a “rather juvenile vision of a divided England”).

“Adapted by Sarah Phelps, the plot is streamlined into three hours of television and the inhabitants of perfect English village Pagford, at times quite unremittingly awful on the page, are rendered more bearable.”

That’s partly due to a cast that includes Michael Gambon, Keeley Hawes, Rory Kenner and Julia McKenzie.

“The performances are uniformly good, the direction is inventive, and there’s an undeniable topicality and panache to this adaptation that convinces you that just around the corner something will pull it all together and make it succeed,” said The Telegraph.

The Casual Vacancy does better than either Broadchurch or Fortitude at wrangling a large ensemble into a coherent story,” concurred The Independent.

“The structure was already there in Rowling’s book, but director Jonny Campbell deserves credit for scenes that cleverly established character with a wordless economy.”

But The Daily Mail complained: “The characters are cut from plywood, the plot is nonsense and the Left-wing breast-beating is infantile.

The Casual Vacancy is such tosh that it won’t change anyone’s voting intentions — but it does confirm the BBC as the attack wing of Labour’s campaign machine.”

The Casual Vacancy will screen 8.30 Wednesdays from May 13.

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