BBC4 to adapt DH Lawrence's Women in Love
Women in Love and John Braine's novel Room at the Top will lead a season of programmes on the BBC digital arts and culture channel exploring love and sexuality in 20th century literature.
Russell's 1969 adaptation, for which Glenda Jackson won a best actress Oscar, made cinema history with the controversial naked wrestling contest between Reed and Bates. It remains to be seen how the BBC4 version will tackle the scene.
The new adaptation will also draw on Lawrence's The Rainbow, to which Women in Love was written as a sequel. Lawrence had originally intended to publish them together as The Sisters.
Richard Klein, the BBC4 controller, said: "Modern adaptations are a new direction for drama on the channel and I'm delighted to bring alive for viewers these iconic, but sometimes overlooked, classic novels. They will form the backbone of a season exploring how relationships between men and women, including sexual relations, were written about and conducted.
"The 20th century has seen an enormous change in the way that men and women behave towards each other and how they conduct relationships between each other. This season aims to explore and contextualise those changes, as well as give viewers an opportunity to see how Lawrence and Braine approached the same subject in different ways."
Women in Love and The Rainbow chart the loves and lives of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, viewed chiefly through their relationships with friends Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich. They will be turned into a two-part drama by writer Billy Ivory, whose credits include the BBC's binmen drama Common as Muck.
Mark Pybus, a producer at Company Pictures, which will make the Lawrence adaptation, said the two novels had never been combined for a TV drama before.
"Taking the two books together will allow Billy to tell a larger story, covering not just the relationships between men and women, but also the brutal impact of the first world war in transforming a rural community into 20th century modernity," he said.
"The whole area of sex and sexual relations is at the root of both novels: what we do, with whom, and why ... that was what Lawrence was trying to fathom; questions (and answers) which are as valid today as ever."
Room at the Top, a triangular love story set in 1940s Yorkshire, is being adapted by Amanda Coe, whose TV credits include episodes of Shameless and BBC4's dramatisation of the life of Mary Whitehouse, Filth: the Mary Whitehouse Story. The BBC said it would be the first screen version of the book since 1959.
Ben Stephenson, the BBC controller of drama commissioning, said: "I am thrilled that two of our most exciting screenwriters, Billy Ivory and Amanda Coe, are reinterpreting the works of two of the 20th century's most daring and honest voices – DH Lawrence and John Braine – and bringing them back into the spotlight."