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David Oyelowo, Lily Collins and Dominic West will star. (Photo: BBC)

The BBC is known for its lavish adaptations of classic novels, and the broadcaster’s rendering of Victor Hugo‘s Les Misérables will be no less epic.

Its impressive casting plans were announced today (January 10). The Wire‘s Dominic West will take the lead, with key parts allocated to a host of big names including Selma‘s David OyelowoOlivia Colman (The Night Manager), Josh O’Connor (Ripper Street), Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals), and Lily Collins (To the Bone).

Dominic will play Jean Valjean, the ex-convict trying to live on the straight and narrow, despite being pursued by Inspector Javert (David) for a parole violation. The characters were played by Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe respectively in the 2012 film adaptation.

“Jean Valjean is one of the great characters in world literature,” said Dominic when asked about his role. “His epic journey of redemption is one of the extraordinary roles an actor can take on, and I can’t wait to get stuck in to bringing Andrew’s brilliant adaptation to the screen.”

“Andrew” is of course Andrew Davies, the writer responsible for such seminal BBC dramas as the original House of CardsBleak House, and Pride & Prejudice (yep, that adaptation, featuring a somewhat damp Colin Firth).

David clearly shares Dominic’s enthusiasm, calling the role of Javert an “actor’s dream.” It went “beyond [his] wildest dreams” to play the part as written by Andrew.

As for the rest of the cast, Olivia will reunite with her Night Manager co-star Adeel Akhtar to play Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, while Josh will take on the role of Marius; Ellie, Cosette; and Lily, Fantine. Éponine will be played by Erin Kellyman, a relative newcomer who you may have spotted in sitcoms such as Uncle and Raised By Wolves.

The cast can breathe a collective sigh of relief, however, as this TV version won’t require their singing voices. It’s being adapted directly from Hugo’s sprawling 1862 novel, rather than the stage musical that made it so famous.

Filming begins next month, with the six-part series expected to air in the U.S. later this year on Masterpiece.

Can you imagine Dominic and David as Jean Valjean and Jalvert?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.