'Little Women' Miniseries in the Works From PBS, BBC

'Call the Midwife' writer Heidi Thomas will pen the three-part mini.
Columbia Pictures/Photofest
'Little Women' (1994)

Little Women is headed to the small screen.

PBS' Masterpiece and BBC are teaming on a three-part adaptation of the beloved Louisa May Alcott book, it was announced Thursday.

Originally published in 1868, Little Women is set against the backdrop as the Civil War as four sisters — Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March — transition from childhood to adulthood. With their father at war, the foursome learn to navigate love and loss with help from their mother.

Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife) will write the three-part miniseries, with Vanessa Caswill (Thirteen) set to direct. Susie Liggat will produce, with Thomas, Colin Callender and Sophie Gardiner for Playground, Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece and Lucy Richer for the BBC onboard as executive producers. Playground will produce the project for BBC and Masterpiece.

Principal photography will begin in July, with casting on the series to be announced shortly.

Little Women is one of the most loved novels in the English language, and with good reason. Its humanity, humor and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief and growing up it has no equal," Thomas said in a statement. "There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world, and I am thrilled to be bringing the March girls to a new generation of viewers." 

Added PBS chief programming executive Beth Hoppe: “Bringing alive this beloved American novel for a new generation of PBS viewers is a dream come true. In the hands of Rebecca Eaton and Colin Callender’s Playground, and with the superb talents of writer Heidi Thomas, we are confident this story of strong women will resonate with both new and longtime fans of Masterpiece.”

This marks the latest collaboration between Masterpiece and Playground following the acclaimed 2015 mini Wolf Hall. Playground is also teaming with BBC on the upcoming adaptation of Howard's End, which will air stateside on Starz.

“The miniseries is a storytelling form unique to television, and the opportunity to adapt Louisa May Alcott's novel over three hours is a gift from the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS," said Callender. "This is a character study of young women rich in texture and detail, and it’s an honor to be able to bring it to life in this extended form with the great Heidi Thomas, one of the finest writers working in television today. In the hands of the exciting directorial style of filmmaker Vanessa Caswill, we hope to deliver a new screen version that will speak to contemporary audiences, meet the expectations of the book’s ardent fans and bring a whole new generation to this great classic.”

There have been several film and TV adaptations of Little Women over the years, including a 1949 film starring Elizabeth Taylor, a TV musical debuted that debuted on CBS in 1958, a 1979 miniseries that starred Meredith Baxter and Eve Plumb, and a 1994 film starring Winona Ryder, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst. There also is currently a Little Women film adaptation in the works with Lea Thompson.

In 2015, The CW put into a development a gritty, sci-fi take on the book that hailed from exec producer Michael Weatherly. That project, however, did not move forward.

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