Angela Lansbury and Emily Watson Lead All Star ‘Little Women’ Cast

Little Women annoucement text (Photo: PBS)

Filming kicks off this summer on a brand new adaptation of the classic novel Little Women. A co-production between BBC One and PBS’s Masterpiece, the three-part drama will introduce the story of the March family, already beloved by millions, to a whole new generation of viewers.

Technically, Little Women isn’t a British story, even though this new version is being put together by a group of people known for making British dramas. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, it follows the story of four sisters on their journey to adulthood. And the girls must navigate everything from from sibling rivalry to first love to gender roles in a changing society. Set against the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War, it’s a particularly American story. (Which, of course, makes the fact that it’s being adapted largely by a team of Brits especially fascinating.) 

Four young actresses will take on the roles of the March sisters. Newcomer Maya Hawke will play the willful and adventurous Jo, Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The TV Series) takes the role of eldest daughter Meg, Annes Elwy (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams) will play Beth, and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, Halt and Catch Fire) is the youngest March sister, Amy. They’re joined by Emily Watson (The Politician’s Husband, The Theory of Everything) as the girls’ mother, Marmee, along with Michael Gambon (Churchill’s Secret, the Harry Potter films) as their benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence and Jonah Hauer-King (Howard’s End) as his grandson Laurie. The great Dame Angela Lanbury will play the girls’ wealthy, but cantankerous Aunt March. (Hopefully, this is one of those roles that they will make a bit larger to fit the talent they've cast in it. Because Aunt March isn't actually around that much, and I want a lot of Lanbury in this role.)

The most recent film adaptation of the story was released in 1994, and starred Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst and more. (It was a teen years favorite of mine, if you can believe that.) This new series will be adapted by Heidi Thomas, creator of popular period drama Call the Midwife. (Which likely bodes well for the series’ quality, given how well she has portrayed women generally, and female friendships specifically, there.) Vanessa Caswell – best known for My Mad Fat Diary – will direct.

No word yet on when we can expect to see this Little Women, on either side of the pond. 2018 seems a safe guess, though it certainly seems like the sort of thing the BBC would probably love to have ready to go in time for Christmas, doesn’t it?

What say you? Is Little Women not British enough for you? Or would you like to see another take on this classic (albeit very American) story?