Richard E Grant, Mark Gatiss and Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding are to front programmes in a year-long “celebration of literature” on the BBC.
BBC Arts acting director Lamia Dabboussy said: “We’re hoping to get the nation reading, re-reading and debating novels through this year-long focus on literature across the BBC.”
Oscar-nominated actor Grant will visit locations that have inspired writers in France, Italy and Spain for a three-part documentary on BBC Four.
Grant, whose career launched with Withnail and I, is also the author of The Wah Wah Diaries and By Design: A Hollywood Novel, will visit locations that have inspired writers in France, Italy and Spain for a three-part documentary on BBC Four.
Fielding will mark the 25th anniversary of her comic creation in Being Bridget, a character brought to life for the big screen by Renee Zellweger.
A spin-off from BBC One’s new Dracula drama will see Gatiss trace the influence of Bram Stoker’s Count.
Gatiss, who has co-written the major BBC One/Netflix drama, will front the documentary titled In Search of Dracula, looking at the character’s origins and legacy.
It will also include a reunion of seven Hammer Horror brides.Gatiss is also the author of a series of spoof novels which started with The Vesuvius Club and includes Devil in Amber and Black Butterfly.
Other highlights in the year include:
BBC Two’s three-part series The Novels That Shaped Our World will focus on how fiction has reflected and shaped society over 300 years in the areas of empire and slavery, women’s voices and class experience.There will also be a Novels That Shaped our World Festival in collaboration with libraries and reading groups.
BBC Two will tell the story of Michael Bond and his greatest creation, Paddington Bear.The books have spawned a whole cuddly toy industry, a TV series and two films featuring the voice of Ben Whishaw as the bear from darkest Peru.
Artist Gillian Wearing will celebrate George Eliot in a BBC Four documentary for the bicentenary of her birth, while five contemporary writers will do the same on Radio 4.Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch will be adapted for Radio 4, and Radio 3 will re-examine The Mill on the Floss. Elliot is also the author of Silas Marner.
British Nigerian historian, writer, broadcaster, David Olusoga will chart the rise of the African novel for BBC Four.
There will also be programmes focusing on the work of Hilary Mantel and the late Toni Morrison.
The last in Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell The Mirror and the Light was released earlier this year.
It completed the series which started with Wolf Hall followed by Bring Up the Bodies, both of which won the Booker Prize. Wolf Hall has been adapted for the stage and television.
It charts the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who became chief advisor to the Tudor king Henry VIII.The trilogy has far surpassed in popularity any other of Mantel’s books which include A Place of Greater Safety and Beyond Black.
Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved.