Dracula – BBC Netflix TV series, UK, 2020

Image: BBC

The BBC has revealed the first images of Danish actor Claes Bang in character as the blood-spattered vampiric Count Dracula.

Further casting has also been announced: Lyndsey Marshal (The League of Gentlemen), Chanel Cresswell (This Is England), Matthew Beard (An Education), Lydia West (Years & Years), Paul Brennen (Happy Valley), Sarah Niles (Catastrophe), Sofia Oxenham (Poldark), John McCrea (God’s Own Country), Phil Dunster (Humans) and newcomer Millicent Wong.

As we previously revealed, Claes Bang will be  joined by Sherlock veterans Jonathan Aris and Sacha Dhawan, as well as Misfits actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. Youssef Kerkour has also joined the cast, along with Game of Thrones actor Clive Russell and Catherine Schell, previously in cult favourites such as Space: 1999, vintage Doctor Who and the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Previously announced cast members are John Heffernan, Joanna Scanlan, Dolly Wells, Morfydd Clark, Lujza Richter and Mark Gatiss.

Filming on the new Dracula adaptation began at Orava Castle in Slovakia earlier this year, before relocating to Bray Studios in Berkshire, England. The latter reopened as a filming facility in May 2018 when the slump in the property market due to the ongoing Brexit fiasco meant that plans to develop it into flats had to be put on hold.  Gatiss commented: “It’s seriously delightful that our new Dracula is being shot at Bray Studios – the former home of Hammer Films!”

Dracula is a forthcoming 2019 British three-part television mini-series being co-written by Mark Gatiss (Jekyll series, 2007) and Stephen Moffat (Doctor Who). The BBC One show, first unveiled as ‘in development’ in June 2017, is a co-production with Netflix, who will stream it outside the UK.

Claes Bang (The Girl In The Spider’s Web) will play Count Dracula. Bang said: “I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Dracula, especially when the script is in the hands of the incredible talents of Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and the team responsible for Sherlock. I’m so excited that I get to dig in to this iconic and super-interesting character. Yes he’s evil, but there’s also so much more to him, he’s charismatic, intelligent, witty and sexy. I realise that there’s a lot to live up to with all the amazing people that have played him over the years, but I feel so privileged, to be taking on this incredible character.”

Inspired by Bram Stoker‘s novel, the mini-series will “re-introduce the world to Dracula, the vampire who made evil sexy” says a BBC press release. “In Transylvania in 1897, the blood drinking Count is drawing his plans against Victorian London. And be warned: the dead travel fast.”

“There have always been stories about great evil,” Sherlock creator Moffat and Gatiss say in the announcement. “What’s special about Dracula, is that Bram Stoker gave evil its own hero.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama added, “Steven and Mark’s ingenious vision for Dracula is as clever as it is chilling. In their talented hands the fans will experience the power of Bram Stoker’s creation as if completely anew. We are thrilled to be collaborating with them and the brilliant team at Hartswood on yet another iconic British series.”

Speaking at the Radio Times Covers Party, co-writers of the new Dracula TV adaptation, Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, revealed that their big pitch to the BBC and Netflix was to finally make Dracula “the hero of his own story” – the central focus of the narrative rather than a shadowy villain for more traditional heroes to overcome.

Moffat said: “There’s lots of things that are challenging about Dracula. Having an evil lead character is actually really difficult. That’s been the main challenge I think. But how we’ve handled, that you’ll have to wait and see.”

Gattis added: “It’s been very exciting though because we sort of made a promise to ourselves and the people who are making it, paying for it, that we’d make Dracula the hero of his own story, and less of a shadowy presence. And that’s a really clever idea, but we had to make good on it!”

Dracula has been adapted by the BBC before, most notably in 2006 with Marc Warren in the title role and in 1977 with Louis Jourdan as The Count.

Meanwhile, Mark Gatiss has played Count Dracula himself in a 2016 Big Finish audio book adaptation.

Portrait of Bram Stoker by Aidan Hickey

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