UPDATE 21/3/16: There’s to be a Grand Sophy movie! For all the news on this new Georgette Heyer film, make sure you check it out.
You would think with all the Austen adaptations floating around and the love for period romances of all forms, Georgette would have her fair share of remakes as well. Even though Jane had six full novels published and Georgette had over thirty, we still have this massive imbalance in adaptations. Mostly, this is because dear Jane’s long gone and so is her hold of copyright, now her works landing firmly in the public domain. Georgette Heyer, on the other hand, whilst dead for the last forty years, she’s not quite at that stage.
In 1950, out came the only English Heyer adaptation there is to date. They did The Reluctant Widow and you can see it here (but, to be honest, The Reluctant Widow is by far my least favourite Heyer novel, so what would you expect). But immediately lower your expectations. Georgette herself apparently disliked it and denied any future films being made during her lifetime (although I couldn’t find the source for this, so it may just be a rumour). I feel like if she saw the talent and brilliance of the film and television industry now, she’d change her tune.
A lot of information about the whereabouts of Georgette Heyer film rights is floating around in the never-ending abyss we call the internet. This blog post about it said that the last known holders of the film rights was Choosy Productions. Choosy Productions, however, has been closed down for a couple of years.
After searching and searching (I’m talking hours here), I still had no idea who actually managed the rights. On a desperate whim, I cold-emailed Jennifer Kloester, the fabulous author of a Heyer biography and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, who very swiftly and kindly directed me to the right place (please go and check out her books, if you’re a fellow fan of dear Georgette).
Turns out The Ampersand Agency Ltd holds the film rights for ALL of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances.
Furthermore, turns out the BBC have had a rolling option on all of the Georgette Heyer regency novels since at least 2013. I believe they still have this rolling option to date (March 2016).
What’s a rolling option? From what I could ascertain, it means that a party hasn’t bought the rights yet, but rather they have paid a fee to make sure no one else does. Basically, they’re renting to make sure they have exclusive purchasing rights, just while they make up their minds.
So why haven’t we seen any BBC adaptations of the brilliant works of Heyer in the last few years? Who knows. But hopefully they get on board soon because all the Georgette fans are dying for an Andrew Davies’ mini-series or two.
Which one of your favourites do you hope is immortalised into film first? Comment below. Mine’s The Masqueraders!
Here’s our message to the BBC: