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Downton Abbey and Line of Duty stars team up for 'dream come true' Jane Austen drama - and it looks brilliant

Downton Abbey: A New Era poster
Downton Abbey: A New Era poster (Universal)

Are you ready for a new Jane Austen-inspired show? The BBC has revealed their upcoming new drama Miss Austen, which follows Jane’s sister Cassandra Austen - and the mystery of why she burned Jane’s letters following her death.

The upcoming four-part drama, penned by the writer behind Elizabeth is Missing, takes on a literary mystery, with the synopsis reading: "The drama begins in 1830, a while after Jane has died. Cassandra races to see her young friend Isabella who is about to lose her home following her father’s death.

"Cassandra is ostensibly there to help her friend, but her real motive is to find a stash of private letters which, in the wrong hands, could destroy Jane’s reputation. On discovering them, Cassandra is overwhelmed as she is transported back to her youth. In flashback, we meet Young Cassy and Jane as they navigate the infatuations, family feuds and dashed hopes which shaped their lives and laid the foundations for Jane’s unforgettable stories.

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"Cassandra’s re-evaluation of her past eventually leads her to realise how blind she has been to the real cause of Isabella’s heartache and distress. Finding a way to guide Isabella towards true happiness, Cassandra is finally able to understand and celebrate the sacrifices she chose to make for her brilliant sister, Jane."

Will you be watching Miss Austen?
Will you be watching Miss Austen?

The show is seriously star-studded, with Keeley Hawes playing Cassandra, while Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie playing Isabelle, and Hot Milk star Patsy Ferran playing a young Jane Austen. Downton Abbey star Phyllis Logan, The Nest’s Mirren Mack and Years and Years actress Jessica Hynes also star.

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Keeley shared snaps on Instagram of the upcoming show, writing: "Very excited to share a first look at Miss Austen, an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Gill Hornby… coming to @bbc in the UK and @masterpiecepbs in the US."

Speaking about the show, executive producer Christine Langan said: "To have this hugely entertaining female-driven story told by such a stellar cast, led by Keeley Hawes, as Bonnie Productions’ first drama is genuinely a dream come true.

"Gill Hornby has found an ingenious way into the Austen world, creating female characters modern audiences can empathise with and delight in. I’m so honoured to be bringing this wonderful novel to the screen in collaboration with the deeply talented trio of writer, Andrea Gibb, director, Aisling Walsh and producer, Stella Merz."

Masterpiece’s executive producer, Susanne Simpson, added: "Miss Austen is a beautifully told story about the loves and losses of the Austen sisters. I’m thrilled that this heartfelt, romantic, and funny adaptation is in the hands of a remarkable ensemble cast led by the incredible Keeley Hawes.”

Head of BBC Programme Acquisition Sue Deeks concludes: "Miss Austen is the perfect blend of intriguing mystery, vivid and engaging characters and beguiling period charm – BBC viewers certainly have a treat in store." There has yet to be a release date announced, so watch this space!