Jack Whitehall could be getting his most significant acting role to-date as he’s recently been announced in the lead role in the cast for BBC 1’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s comic novel, Decline And Fall. If that isn’t enough of a surprise move, you can also add the fact that he’ll be cast alongside the glamorous, big name star of US hit comedy drama, Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria, who will be playing his love interest, the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde.
It sounds like the comedian has landed well and truly on his stilt-topped feet, the jammy git, not least of all because he could be in for an onscreen pash with Eva. He’s probably giddy at the prospect of it all as we write, but it does sound like it’s going to be one of the big productions of the year from the beautiful Beeb, so we’re not too indignant about his lucky break.
The series will be coming to BBC 1 in spring 2017, having initially been earmarked for BBC 2, and it will be the first time the satirical novel has been adapted for television since it was published back in 1928. It also marks fifty years since Evelyn Waugh’s death, reiterating the ongoing impact of the British writer’s work.
The plot tells the story of Paul Pennyfeather (Jack Whitehall), a divinity student at Oxford University in the 1920s, who’s life takes a bit of a tumble when he falls victim to the tomfoolery of The Bollinger Club. The incident results in him being dismissed for indecent exposure and consequently forced to find employment at an obscure Welsh public school called Llanabba, with headmaster Dr Fagan and fellow teacher Mr Grimes.
When he meets the beautiful Margot Beste-Chetwynde, a South American mother of one of Paul’s pupils, he thinks that his luck is about to change as he falls for her instantly. His turning tide seems to go from strength to strength when he’s asked to tutor her son over the summer holidays, but there are some serious surprises heading his way before the season is through.
Joining Jack Whitehall and Eva Longoria in the cast of Decline And Fall are David Suchet, who will play the headmaster of Llanabba, Dr Fagan, and Douglas Hodge as Paul’s teacher compadre Grimes. Stephen Graham (Taboo: Series 2) has also been confirmed in the cast, which has gotten more of a mixed bag as the announcements have been released. He’s joined by Douglas Hodge (The Night Manager), Vincent Franklin (The Thick Of It), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) and Jason Watkins (Taboo).
Decline And Fall has been adapted by comedy writer, James Wood, who’s last outing was yet another sterling BBC 2 effort with the sitcom Rev. Guillem Morales (Inside No 9) will direct the adaptation for BBC 1. Ben Cavey, Will Gould, and James Wood are executive producers. Jack has already given his Twitter page a bit of an Evelyn Waugh makeover, so you can see more on the production there.
We’ve never really been wowed by Jack Whitehall in the past, but in the upcoming BBC 1 adaptation of Decline And Fall he could be about to turn things around. With both Eva Longoria, David Suchet and Stephen Graham also in the cast, he’s definitely got a lot of support, so if James Wood’s writing can deliver a small screen adaptation that lives up to the comic novel then it should be a must-see series when it airs later this year.