Nothing But TV Interviews: Ellie Bamber and Adeel Akhtar on Les Miserables

Produced by Lookout Point and BBC Studios, Les Misérables is a brand new six-part adaptation of the classic 19th century book by Victor Hugo.

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Adapted by the award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride And Prejudice, War And Peace), this landmark drama airing on BBC One has gone back to the novel and delved deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.

Les Misérables has a distinguished British cast with Dominic West (The Affair, Tomb Raider, Appropriate Adult) as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo (Selma, Gringo, Spooks) as Javert and Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply, Tolkien, Love Rosie) as Fantine.

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Ellie Bamber plays Cosette

Tell us about Cosette
For me, Cosette is a representation of hope and the future for the story. Her journey is the story of her becoming a woman, but one from a really tough past. Previously I feel audiences have had a different idea of Cosette - she’s often seen as a passive character within the plot, but Andrew Davies’ script delves into her past so you can see why she is nervous at the beginning of her teenage life. She does have a huge capacity to love and that begins to show.

I haven’t played a character recently from this time period so wearing these amazing costumes is incredible, as are the sets.

Tell us about Les Misérables as an adaptation
I loved Andrew’s scripts, they are so eloquently written. An audience who hasn’t read the book but might have seen the play or seen the movie adaptation will see new details that they wouldn’t have seen or known before, especially about the characters' pasts and where they are going.

Tell us about the relationship between Cosette and Jean Valjean
The relationship between Cosette and Jean Valjean is wonderful, as they depend on each other. She teaches him how to love and that’s beautiful. The interesting thing about the journey they go on together is Cosette becoming a woman: it’s a father holding onto his daughter, but also letting her go.

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Adeel Akhtar plays Monsieur Thénardier

Tell us about your character, Monsieur Thénardier?
Monsieur Thénardier is a scavenger at the start of the book and of this story and elevates himself to the position of landlord. However he is terrible with money and responsibility so it soon all goes down the pan!

Tell us about the appeal of Les Misérables
When you have a good story, it doesn’t matter where it’s placed in history as it speaks to a universality of people’s emotions and needs. The stories are about love and kindness and that’s always something that any audience is receptive to.

Why did you accept the role?
The part itself of Monsieur Thénardier is actually funny and quite dark at times. The bigger draw was the story as a whole.

Les Miserables starts 30 December 2018 on BBC One.