This Christmas, U.K. viewers will get their first chance
to see Emma Watson in a non–Harry Potter role. According to Watson’s official website,
the BBC’s one-off film adaptation of Noel Streatfeild’s classic
book Ballet Shoes will air Dec. 26 at 8:30 p.m. on BBC
One. Watson will play Pauline, the eldest of three girls adopted by
an eccentric old explorer, Matthew Brown, in 1930s London.
Fans of the book will know that Pauline’s
character is actually not a million miles away from Watson’s in real
life. A beautiful blonde girl, Pauline is sent to stage school and soon
has success as an actress, first on stage and then in films.
A few clips from
Ballet Shoes are included in this BBC preview of their upcoming Christmas season:
Pauline’s two adopted sisters are
Petrova (played by Yasmin Paige), a tomboy of Russian heritage
who is far more interested in cars and airplanes than in going to stage
school; and Posy (played by Lucy Boynton), a redhead who seems
born to be a ballet dancer.
The BBC has a long and interesting
article about the production here,
including a more detailed plot synopsis and quotes from Watson about
As well as providing Watson with
her non-Harry debut, it seems like the film is going to be something
of an ensemble piece for British actresses.
Silent Witness star Emilia
Fox (who had a small role in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice
as Georgiana Darcy) will play Sylvia Brown, the great-niece of Matthew,
who is left in charge of the three girls when he disappears on an expedition:
Comedian Victoria Wood (pictured
left) will play Nana, who helps to raise the children:
Eileen Atkins (whom Kate
Beckinsale fans may remember as Judith Starkadder in Cold Comfort
Farm) will play Madame Fidolia, the head of the stage school where
the girls are sent:
Sense and Sensibility actresses
Harriet Walter and Gemma Jones will play Dr. Smith and Dr.
Jakes, two academics who board with Sylvia and who help to educate the
I must admit I’m slightly curious
as to how the two doctors’ relationship will be played. The 1975 BBC
adaptation of Ballet Shoes circumvented the question altogether
by leaving out Dr. Smith, who doesn’t have much of a role in the book.
But in the original novel, although nothing is stated, they’ve always
kind of screamed “life companions” to me. Maybe now that J.K.
Rowling has outed Dumbledore, we can start overcoming some of the
anxiety about openly gay characters in family books and films.
Here are Watson’s thoughts about
her role in Ballet Shoes, as well as about acting,
university, and her possible future career: