Sixth Sense star to play Jane Austen for BBC

English actress Olivia Williams, best known for playing the mum in The Sixth Sense, has been cast as Jane Austen in a new drama for the BBC.

Based on the life and letters of the legendary novelist, Miss Austen Regrets imagines the story of the novelist’s final years.

Olivia, 39, will be joined by Greta Scacchi and Hugh Bonneville in the feature-length period drama, which has been written by Gwyneth Hughes (Five Days).

Austen died having never married or met her own Mr Darcy. But Hughes said: “…I read the most extraordinary fact. Jane Austen did receive a proposal of marriage from a wealthy young neighbour. And she accepted! She actually said yes to him – till after a long night of discussion with her sister Cassandra, she changed her mind. This intriguing decision inspired the story of Miss Austen Regrets.”

Hughes added that the script is very tightly based on Austen’s surviving letters to her sister and to her young niece, Fanny.

“So I must share the credit for quite a lot of the dialogue with Miss Austen herself!

“And I must say, it’s been a strange and humbling experience to feel this genius of English literature peering critically over my shoulder as I write. But I have loved every moment in her company.”

Filming is currently underway.

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