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Producers turn to books in tough times

23rd November 2009

The television industry is increasingly looking to the world of literature for reassurance, as producers seek surefire hits to ride out the recession.

With authors dominating programming over the next few months - as everything from Chris Ryan's SAS thriller Strike Back to an interpretation of Mo Mowlam's autobiography Mo are screened - it seems a trend that is set to stay.

Liza Marshall, head of drama at Channel 4, told the Guardian that books offer quality and reliability amid a turbulent time for the schedules.

'In these difficult times there's a little more security in adapting a book than in commissioning an original script,' she explained.

'Although you couldn't run your drama department purely from the bookshop, books do have an epic scope and a strong author's vision which can really help a channel in tough times.'

It is something audiences have warmed to, with numerous adaptations of Jane Austen's works and other classics such as Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit garnering healthy viewing figures.

This Christmas sees a number of literary specials set for the small screen, with a new BBC adaptation of John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps and Sarah Waters' work on Victorian spiritualism, Affinity, on ITV.

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