The first book for “grown-ups” by Harry Potter author JK Rowling is to be adapted into a television series, the BBC announced Monday.
“The Casual Vacancy”, Rowling’s darkly comic novel set in a seemingly idyllic English village, was published in September and the TV version is set to air on the BBC’s flagship BBC One channel in 2014.
The 47-year-old’s series about the young wizard was adapted into eight blockbuster movies, but Rowling insisted that television was the best medium for an adaptation of her new book.
“I’m thrilled that the BBC has commissioned ‘The Casual Vacancy’,” Rowling said in a statement.
“I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home.”
Published five years after the final instalment of Harry Potter, “The Casual Vacancy” is set in a world far from the wizarding school of Hogwarts, dealing with gritty subjects including rape, drug addiction and self-harm.
It tells the story of the fight to fill a slot on a village council after the incumbent’s sudden death, and hinges on the fate of a squalid housing estate.
The book met with a lukewarm response from the critics but has topped several national bestseller lists since its release, including in Britain, France and the United States.
Rowling has sold more than 450 million copies of the Potter books worldwide, and the series has spawned a business empire spanning theme parks, toys and video games along with the books and films, making her one of Britain’s richest women.
BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson described “The Casual Vacancy” as an “extraordinary tapestry of modern Britain”.
“It’s a book of such richness that through humour, social commentary and above all fantastic characters, says something insightful and entertaining about the country we live in,” he added.
The BBC has yet to decide on the number of episodes in the new series and their length. Rowling will “collaborate closely with the project”, the broadcaster said.
The author has previously said she left “the door ajar” for a return to the world of Harry Potter but said her next work was likely to be aimed at slightly younger readers than those who enjoyed the Potter books.