PBS sets Austen 'Masterpiece' six-pack

'Complete' features all her novels

Jane Austen fans in the U.S. can be grateful for what appears to have been something of a local feud between the U.K.'s ITV and the BBC over filmed versions of the author's English classics. The rush to production over recent years has made it possible for PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" to air adaptations of all six of her novels for the first time in what amounts to an Austen festival beginning in January.

Fans in the U.S. have been busily blogging for months with chatter about the upcoming series, "The Complete Jane Austen." But full details of the event are now being outlined by U.K. screenwriter Andrew Davies and "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton, who are on a multicity tour to promote the series and meet sponsors.

"Complete Jane Austen" offers new productions of "Northanger Abbey," "Persuasion," "Mansfield Park" and "Sense and Sensibility." The lineup also includes "Pride and Prejudice," starring Colin Firth, as well as the version of "Emma" that stars Kate Beckinsale.

Eaton said the series will include a production that is bound to have scholars of the great 19th century novelist scrutinizing each scene: "Austen Regrets," a biopic based on the author's letters. One reference by the novelist to an apparent hangover results in a scene in which Austen tipples most liberally at a dinner party.

"Masterpiece" says this is the first time that Austen's books will be presented as a complete collection on television. Eaton said that between them, the BBC and ITV had managed to produce the bulk of the novels for TV with "Masterpiece" as a partner. The way forward to a complete Jane Austen collection seemed very much to suggest itself.