Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Coming soon – The Lady Vanishes BBC1, The Americans ITV

Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes in The Lady Vanishes
Strangers on a train – Iris and Max. Pic: BBC
• Here's Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes from the soon-to-be broadcast BBC1 remake of The Lady Vanishes, a cheeky reboot of the Alfred Hitchcock classic from 1938. This 90-minute thriller has a sparkling cast including Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Gemma Jones (Spooks), Selina Cadell (Doc Martin), Stephanie Cole (Corrie) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour), and is likely to be shown in March, having originally been slated for Christmas.

Like Hitchcock's film, this is based on the novel The Wheel Spins by British writer Ethel Lina White. Middleton plays Iris, the young socialite who, in 1931, is on holiday in the Balkans when she encounters Miss Froy on a train. Miss Froy tells her she is desperate to get home. After Iris wakes from a sleep, she finds Miss Froy has disappeared and her fellow passengers deny the old lady ever existed.

The new adaptation is by Fiona Seres, who also wrote The Silence. BBC drama boss Kate Harwood says, 'Fiona’s adaptation of The Wheel Spins deftly weaves together the intriguing stories of a psychologically complex group of characters – with the mysterious disappearance of Miss Froy on a packed train – played out against the tense backdrop of the Balkans in the 1930s. I am delighted with the incredible cast and crew we have assembled for the project. The Lady Vanishes will be a thrilling treat for BBC One audiences.'

Also appearing alongside young stars Tuppence Middleton, recently seen in Spies of Warsaw, and Tom Hughes (Cemetery Junction), will be Danish actors Benedikte Hansen (Borgen) and Jesper Christensen (Melancholia).

Hitchcock's film was a delightful mix of wit and intrigue, and helped to build his reputation to the point that Hollywood would come calling. Will 2013's version be as entertaining – or will it quickly disappear like the now forgotten 1979 remake starring Elliott Gould and Cybill Shepherd?

• Meanwhile, ITV has signed new US series The Americans, starring Golden Globe winner Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys (The Scapegoat, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), another Brit headlining an American series. Where Homeland is about Islamist terrorists infiltrating the US, The Americans harks back to Soviet spying Stateside, as KGB agents played by Rhys and Russell undergo an arranged marriage and pose as an American couple in 1980s Washington. They even have two children who know nothing of their parents' alter egos. And, wouldn't you know it, their next door neighbour turns out to be an FBI counter-intelligence agent.