The BBC Will Bring Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life to Life On the Small Screen

In Life After Life, Ursula Todd dies the night she’s born. But then she doesn’t. Kate Atkinson’s bestselling novel follows Ursula as she lives and dies repeatedly—a cinematic concept that will be brought to life on screen by the BBC in a four-part series. Deadline reports the project already has a writer and director on board: John Crowley (The Goldfinch) is set to direct, and Bathsheba Doran (Outlaw King, Boardwalk Empire) will write the adaptation.

Reviewing Life After Life when it was published in 2013, Niall Alexander wrote:

Life After Life is an elaboration of the serenity prayer, essentially, in which Ursula finds the courage to change the things she can, and the grace to accept those things she can’t. As torturous a process as this is for her, it’s utterly wonderful for us. Let’s waste no time wondering what if—what if, for instance, I could reach into the fiction and fix it, after a fashion—because at the end of the day, I would change nothing about this haunting novel. It’s exemplary in every which way.

In the UK, the novel won the Costa Book Prize; in the US, both TIME and Entertainment Weekly named it one of the ten best books of the decade. People really, really love this novel—it’s a bit surprising it’s taken until now for an adaptation to get underway.

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can—will she?

Filming is set to begin early in 2021, but no release date is yet announced.


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