Vanity Fair: everything you need to know about new ITV drama

Olivia Cooke and Suranne Jones star in new adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 novel


ITV is to screen a new TV adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1847 novel Vanity Fair, with Bates Motel actor Olivia Cooke starring as the irrepressible social climber Becky Sharp in the classic period drama. Here’s everything you need to know about the new series:

What is it about?

Thackeray’s classic novel follows the fortunes of Becky Sharp and Emmy Sedley, and their friends and families, during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

While mousy Emmy is content to be a devoted wife, “Becky attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English society, taking her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking hearts and losing fortunes as she goes,” says The Sun.

Executive producer Damien Timmer said the series would be “a massive rollercoaster of a story”, with a huge cast and a plot spanning years.

Who is in it?

As well as Cooke, whom viewers may have also seen in Hollywood blockbusters Ready Player One and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, the all-star cast includes familiar small-screen faces Suranne Jones and Martin Clunes, as well as stage heavyweights like Simon Russell Beale and Frances de La Tour. Meanwhile, Monty Python legend Michael Palin will play Thackeray himself, who appears in the novel as an omniscient narrator.

When does it come out?

An exact date has yet to be revealed, but ITV has promised that it is “coming soon”. A trailer released in June confirmed that the series will air in 2018.

The series will be ITV’s first version of the tale, which has been adapted by the BBC four times since the 1950s.

In the most recent 1998 BBC dramatisation, Becky Sharp was played by The Night Manager’s Natasha Little. A 2004 big screen version starred Reese Witherspoon in the lead, with a vast supporting cast of British period drama stalwarts.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us