BBC Two has announced an all-star line-up for its production of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline And Fall, which is bing filmed to mark the 50th anniversary of Waugh’s death.
Casting for the tree-part comedy satire includes Jack Whitehall (Bad Education, Fresh Meat), David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot) Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) and Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful).
Adapted for television for the first time, the series for BBC Two will be written by Rev’s James Wood.
Decline And Fall sees Paul Pennyfeather (Whitehall) as an inoffensive divinity student at Oxford University in the 1920s, who is wrongly dismissed for indecent exposure having been made the victim of a prank by The Bollinger Club.
Suchet will play Dr Fagan, the headmaster of Llanabba, an obscure public school in Wales where Paul first finds employment and works with fellow teacher Grimes (Hodge).
It is at the school that he meets a beautiful South American woman, the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde, to be played by Eva Longoria, who is the mother of one of the pupils.
For Paul it is love at first sight, but little does he know the surprises that lie ahead of him when he agrees to tutor her son over the summer holidays.
Whitehall said: “I am extremely pleased to be a part of this amazing adaptation by James Wood. I’ve been a fan of this book since I read it as a teenager, and I just hope that I can do it justice.”
Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “One of the greatest comic novels of all time, this satirical masterpiece is long overdue a television debut.
“Waugh deploys comedy and tragedy to point up prevailing institutional corruption and the dehumanising consequences of elitism, very timely and apposite for today.
“James has done a terrific job of getting to the core of it, and the writing has attracted a fantastic cast.”