PBS and BBC are making a “Les Misérables” without all the singing

Les Mis wasn’t always musical theater.
Les Mis wasn’t always musical theater.
Image: PBS/BBC
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Les Misérables is getting its millionth remake of the past century, and this time—in a delightful twist—there will be no singing. BBC is set to collaborate with PBS’s Masterpiece to revisit Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel-turned-musical-turned-film, this time with a non-musical format.

While many fans may be lamenting the loss of iconic hits such as “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” the PBS adaptation is a refreshing reminder that Les Mis is a compelling story even without the showstoppers. The 1980s stage-musical adaptation catapulted the story into the modern pop culture canon, but the mini-series may offer fresh perspective on the dramatic tale, which occurs in early 19th century Paris against a backdrop of civil unrest.

While it remains to be seen if this version can possibly compete with Anne Hathaway’s soulful and starving Fantine of Les Mis circa 2012, the network’s version looks promising, with David Oyelowo as Javert, Dominic West as Jean Valjean, and Lily Collins as Fantine. As an added bonus, we’ll see Oscar favorite Olivia Colman, a period drama icon, as a shady Madame Thénardier.

Watch the trailer here: