World TV Day: The Best TV Shows Based On Books

World Television Day celebrates the power television has to bring people together. To celebrate we look at some of the best adaptations of books to the small screen. 

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

English author, Hilary Mantel’s novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies made a huge splash on the literary scene in 2009, with the former winning the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The books were quickly optioned for television, with the miniseries airing in 2015 on the BBC. Starring the best of British actors, from Mark Rylance to Damian Lewis, Mark Gatiss and more, the series was lauded by critics and nominated for numerous Golden Globes and Emmys.

Listen to the audiobook here

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Based on Gregory’s series of historical novels, The Cousin’s War, The White Queen offers viewers a lavish period drama set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses. Following three women in their quest for power, the series was nominated for numerous awards including Golden Globes and a People’s Choice Award.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is one of the most well-known works of literature around the world, not to mention one of the longest. Earlier this year, the BBC aired a brilliant six-part adaptation of the books, adapted for the small screen by Andrew Davis. Starring Jim Broadbent, Paul Dano, James Norton and Lily James, among a host of other famous names, the series captured the spirit of nineteenth century Russia and the love, longing and passion of the characters.

Read the ebook here

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

There have been numerous TV and film adaptations of Austen’s classic novel over the years, but none compare to the 1995 TV series. The adaptation starred heartthrob, Colin Firth as the brooding Mr Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle as protagonist Elizabeth Bennet. Famed for the iconic lake scene, which sees a fully dressed Colin Firth emerge from a swim in the lake at Pemberly, the series still stands out as one of the best adaptations ever made. 

Read the ebook here 

Check out the DVD here

Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

While there have been a number of small screen adaptations of her works across the years, Christie was reportedly not a fan of many of them. However, the popularity of the BBC’s 1980s series of Miss Marple, with Joan Hickon at the helm, marked a change in the tides. With the adaptations staying largely true to the novels, the series was received enthusiastically by critics and audiences alike.

Check out the DVD here

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

The 1981 television serial of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited instantly became a hit when it first aired. The adaptation was then named one of the top 100 Greatest British Television Programmes nearly two decades later in 2000. Starring Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick, the series follows the lives of aristocratic Flyte family through the eyes of Charles Ryder, a young undergraduate who befriends Lord Sebastian Flyte.

Watch the adaptation here

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Dickens’ timeless novel has frequently been adapted for the big and small screens, but never as successfully as the 2011 adaptation for the BBC. This miniseries launched the career of young British actor and heartthrob, Douglas Booth, as well as starring big names from Gililan Anderson, to David Suchet and Ray Winstone. Capturing the hardships of life for the lower classes, and starkly contrasting these against the opulence enjoyed by the upper classes in Dickens’ era, the series was loved for doing justice to this iconic story.  

Find the DVD in our catalogue here

Read the ebook here

Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Nobody predicted just how astronomically successful this adaptation of George RR Martin’s novel series would become. The series has catapulted numerous previously unknown young stars towards huge Hollywood careers, from Kit Harrington to Emilia Clarke and more. The series is gripping for its brilliant characterisation of numerous flawed, desperate and dastardly figures, the detailed fantasy continents of Westeros and Essos, not to mention the frequent shocks and surprises that leave you on the edge of your seat.