HBO will air the three-part miniseries The Casual Vacancy, based on the book by J.K. Rowling, on April 29 and 30, 2015. Sarah Phelps adapted the book for the miniseries and Jonny Campbell directed, with Michael Gambon and Julia McKenzie leading the cast. Keeley Hawes, Rory Kinnear, Rufus Jones, Emily Bevan, Simon McBurney, Monica Dolan, and Abigail Lawrie are also featured in the drama set in the fictional English village of Pagford.
Rowling was involved as an executive producer and, according to HBO, the author gave screenwriter Phelps free rein in adapting The Casual Vacancy into the three part miniseries. Paul Trijbits, Rick Senat, and Neil Blair also executive produced the HBO series.
Pagford is a quaint, picturesque town in the Cotswolds, a seemingly idyllic English village with a cobbled market square and ancient abbey. Behind the pretty façade, however, is a town at war: rich vs. poor; parents vs. children; wives vs. husbands; and teachers vs. pupils.
The Casual Vacancy is also the story of a village tearing itself apart, revealing the townspeople’s idiosyncrasies, and addressing social responsibility and one’s response to the poor and disadvantaged. At times darkly funny, it portrays a town whose residents are selfishly stuck in their beliefs and traditions, unaware they have the power to change. This sadly comical selfishness comes to play an important role as events unfold.
The Casual Vacancy Air Dates:
Debut: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: May 3 (2:00 p.m.), 8 (noon) and 12 (6:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 6 (8:00 p.m.) and 17 (9:30 a.m.)
As Pagford Parish Council prepares for a vote on what will become of Sweetlove House – a town institution and community center serving poorer residents – chairman Howard Mollison (Michael Gambon) and his wife, Shirley (Julie McKenzie), who want to turn it into a tourist-destination spa, look to neutralize the threat of everyman council member Barry (Rory Kinnear), a solicitor and defender of the current Sweetlove House mission. When Barry’s sudden death leaves a “casual vacancy” on the council, the race to fill his seat, and determine the fate of Sweetlove, stirs up drama among residents.
While Howard and Shirley push their submissive son, Miles (Rufus Jones), to run for election, Barry’s friend and doctor, Parminder (Lolita Chakrabarti), rallies behind reluctant school headmaster Colin (Simon McBurney), while Barry’s bullying half-brother, Simon (Richard Glover), looks to capitalize on the family tragedy. Elsewhere, Terri (Keeley Forsyth), Barry’s former neighbor and a struggling meth addict, finds it hard to stay clean, while her troubled daughter, Krystal (Abigail Lawrie), takes drastic measures to help. Later, Simon’s teenage son, Andrew, aka Arf (Joe Hurst), looks to expose the hypocrisy in Pagford by bringing his Uncle Barry back from the dead.
Debut: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 3 (3:00 p.m.), 8 (1:00 p.m.) and 13 (6:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 6 (9:00 p.m.) and 17 (10:30 a.m.)
As the town of Pagford mourns on the day of Barry’s funeral, candidates for his council seat are shocked to find their darkest secrets revealed online. Amidst struggles with her mom, Krystal recalls a fond memory with Barry and finds herself pursued by a rebellious classmate, Stuart, aka Fats (Brian Bernel). New student Gaia (Simona Brown) takes an interest in Andrew, who faces the consequences of outing his father’s unsavory ways online. Meanwhile, Barry’s widow, Mary (Emily Bevan), crashes a dinner to discuss Sweetlove House; Miles worries about his wife Samantha’s (Keeley Hawes) behavior; and Parminder butts heads with Howard, who is later plagued by visions of his own mortality.
Debut: THURSDAY, APRIL 30 (8:00-9:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: May 3 (4:00 p.m.), 8 (2:00 p.m.) and 14 (6:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 6 (10:00 p.m.) and 17 (11:30 a.m.)
As the council election approaches, Mary tries to talk Colin out of running, while his wife, Tess (Monica Dolan), puts her heart into campaigning. Andrew keeps his distance from home and stands up to Fats, whose interest in Gaia leaves Krystal annoyed. After unbearably close election results, the Sweetlove House matter is swiftly decided, and Miles gets a shock at home. During Howard’s birthday party, Samantha and Shirley have a confrontation about their family, and Arf catches two couples in compromising positions. Finally, after Terri gives in to temptation, a desperate Krystal seeks refuge, precipitating another tragedy that rocks the town.
-By Rebecca Murray
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