Watch the trailer for “The Casual Vacancy”!

It’s finally February, which means that it is just over two weeks until The Casual Vacancy finally premieres on television! As we get closer to the air date, BBC is finally releasing long-awaited new information about the show – including a trailer and an interview with screenwriter Sarah Phelps (which includes spoilers!).

First, check out the trailer below:

Screenwriter Sarah Phelps has been praised by J.K. Rowling herself for her work on the Casual Vacancy script and spoke in an interview last week about her choices in adapting the book. Be warned: If you haven’t read the book, there will be a few plot spoilers in the excerpts below. There will also be a few spoilers about the television series, so take care if you want to remain spoiler-free before February 15.

On Krystal Weedon:

For me, Krystal Weedon (Abigail Lawrie) is Tess of the d’Urbervilles. What J.K. Rowling is doing is telling one of those big 19th[-]century stories where we see someone battling their social, political and economic environment. Krystal is an absolute, contemporary Tess. Right from the start I knew it was Krystal’s story. Krystal is the beating heart of the story because she’s someone who gets looked away from. She is a very young girl, with no education, is sexually precocious and difficult and no-one knows what to do with her. I knew I had to get into her skin, see her private life and reveal she is a carer. She lives this unendurable life, looking after her drug-addicted mother and bringing up a four[-]year-old child. Ultimately I wanted to tell Krystal’s story, but it’s also about a village that is tearing itself apart. And it’s also about looking at people’s idiosyncrasies.

On Barry Fairbrother:

I had to make Barry very present. In the book he’s dead very quickly, and he doesn’t come back. I wanted us to get to know Barry better by keeping him in longer and by seeing him again when he revisits in ghostly form.

This marks a significant change from the book. Director Jonny Campbell says of Phelps’s decision,

What Sarah has done very cleverly is […] allow us into Barry’s life to such a degree that we the audience miss him as much as the other characters. That was a very important decision, and it changed the timeline of the story from the novel [since] it had an implication on how she developed some of the other characters and their relationship to Barry. When he dies, we’re all invested in it. His death is the catalyst for everyone else’s story.

On comedy in The Casual Vacancy:

If you’re doing permanently bleak, you just see the tragedy and become numb to the bleak. It needs to be shot through with moments of absolute transformative glory about what it is to be alive and the possibility of love and hope in the future. Which means when you see the darkness, you can really see it. Also, you have to have humour because humour is life and is in the normal way people talk to each other. The majority of people in The Casual Vacancy are not aware they have the power to change. They are just selfish. So their selfishness is funny in a way. I think humour is different to comedy. If you’re playing a human being, there’s going to be humour in there.”

You can read the full interview here.

Are you happy with the changes that have been made to The Casual Vacancy? Did you enjoy the trailer?

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