Friday, 7th May 2021

How to f**k up a TV adaptation of a book

DO you want to run a beloved book into the ground by adapting it ineptly for television? Follow these rules: 

Don’t read the book Books are less popular than telly shows because they’re slower and sold in fancy shops. Over-familiarity with the source material could put your adaptation in danger of being equally dull, so avoid the book in favour of skimming the plot on Wikipedia.

Set it in the modern day Regardless of when the book is set, make sure your TV version takes place in 2019 so audiences can relate to it. George Eliot would definitely have set Middlemarch in Stoke-on-Trent during the Brexit referendum if she could, and if she knew how much money could be made from product placement.

Add loads of sex If Jane Austen was writing today, she’d definitely include full sex scenes including bondage, furries and car-park dogging, so you have a duty to do the same. The breathless tabloid coverage is just a bonus.

Deliberately avoid the best bits Everyone knows Martians invade England in The War of the Worlds, so where’s the fun in showing that on screen? They’ve seen it in all the other versions. Astound viewers by being unpredictable and focusing on mundane domestic arguments instead.

Invent new characters Bookworms are foolishly attached to literary characters, but wouldn’t it be more entertaining if it turned out Sherlock had an evil sister who he’s never mentioned before, or the Scarlet Pimpernel had a wise-cracking child sidekick?

Change the ending Authors work really hard to give their books suitable and satisfying endings. But just because they wrote the thing doesn’t mean their word is gospel, and the only way to get buzz on Twitter is to go your own way. Have Gatsby elope with Daisy and shoot the narrator. Why not?