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Preview: The Complete Jane Austen Is the Sensible Choice

Like a perfectly poured cup of tea, Masterpiece Theatre's The Complete Jane Austen (Sunday, PBS; Check local listings) is arriving just in time to keep viewers warm through the cold winter months. Starting Jan. 13 and running Sundays through March, the series — hosted by Gillian Anderson (Bleak House) — features all-new adaptations of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, as well as old favorites Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale, and the Emmy Award-winning Pride and Prejudice (yes, ladies, the one starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy). Kicking off the event is Persuasion, starring Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, the shy daughter heading toward spinsterhood, and Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Sir Walter Elliot, Anne's father. "Sir Walter is a party animal who has spent all

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Like a perfectly poured cup of tea, Masterpiece Theatre's The Complete Jane Austen (Sunday, PBS; Check local listings)is arrivingjust in time to keep viewers warm through thecold winter months. Starting Jan. 13 andrunning Sundays through March, the series —hosted by Gillian Anderson (Bleak House) —features all-new adaptations of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, as well as old favorites Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale, and the EmmyAward-winning Pride and Prejudice (yes, ladies,the one starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy).

Kicking off the event is Persuasion, starringSally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, the shy daughter heading towardspinsterhood, and Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Sir Walter Elliot, Anne's father."Sir Walter is a party animal who has spent allhis wife's money on clothes and partying," Headsays. "He detests his middle daughter becauseshe tries to budget. I have to admit, I found ithugely enjoyable to play such a pig!"

The entire series is like "a wonderful six-volumeleather edition," says Andrew Davies,who scripted the four new TV films. "Austen isperhaps the most perfect writer to adapt becauseshe tells splendid love stories in whichthe heroine fights against adversity and comesout to a happy ending," he adds. "Austen suppliessuch good scenes [and] dialogue that onesometimes feels guilty about taking the money!"

Despite writing so convincingly about love,Austen never married, and Miss Austen Regrets (Feb. 3), a new biopic starring Olivia Williamsand Hugh Bonneville, depicts her romantictrials — including two men whose proposals sherejected and the young surgeon who arrivedtoo late to steal her heart. It's a reminder thatlife doesn't always play out like the plot of aJane Austen novel.

Check out more of Jane Austen in our Online Video Guide.

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