The BBC Media Centre has announced final casting arrangements for its upcoming series Decline and Fall, based on Waugh’s first novel, in a release dated today. This confirms the selection of Jack Whitehall to play Paul Pennyfeather and Eva Longoria, Margot Beste-Chetwynde. See earlier post. The BBC also announces the casting of David Suchet as Dr. Fagan and Douglas Hodge as Capt. Grimes. Suchet is best known for his portrayal as Hercule Poirot in ITV’s long running series based on Agatha Christie’s books. Hodge has played in various stage, film and TV roles, most recently as Rex Mayhew, one of the MI6 good guys in the BBC dramatization of John Le Carre’s The Night Manager. Hodge will have a hard act to follow in the portrayal of Grimes by Leo McKern in the 1960’s film version of the novel. McKern’s performance was the only memorable element of that production. He went on to greater fame in the role of Rumpole of the Bailey.
The BBC Media Centre’s release also included these statements from those involved in the production:
Of his casting as Paul Pennyfeather, Jack Whitehall says: “I am extremely pleased to be a part of this amazing adaptation by James Wood. I’ve been a fan of this book since I read it as a teenager, and I just hope that I can do it justice.”
Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “One of the greatest comic novels of all time, this satirical masterpiece is long overdue a television debut. Waugh deploys comedy and tragedy to point up prevailing institutional corruption and the dehumanising consequences of elitism, very timely and apposite for today. James has done a terrific job of getting to the core of it, and the writing has attracted a fantastic cast.”