Tom Bateman and Olivia Cooke as Rawdon and Becky

1. It’s a timeless story

Becky Sharp is a modern heroine trying to make her way in a patriarchal society.

She is charming, manipulative and not the kind of heroine you would expect to find in a 19th-century novel.

2. So it shines a light on modern issues

Sexism, racism, the rise of a young and self-absorbed generation – Vanity Fair was a satire of the wealthy and powerful in the 19th century but some things still ring true today.

The writers and producers also made slight changes to connect the series to a modern audience. 

3. It takes place in a stunning period setting

You’ll love Becky’s strength and cunning - but most of all you'll love all the carriages, bonnets, red coats and elegant manners that come with a literary classic.

Plus, through the magic of CGI, 19th-century London is recreated. It’s a sumptuous, visual extravaganza!

4. It’s from the makers of Victoria

Mammoth Screen, the creators of the new adaptation, are also responsible for Parades End, Poldark and Victoria, the royal drama starring Jenna Coleman. 

So they know their period dramas and they do not let us down!

5. There’s music you’ll recognise

The series theme song is a cover of the Bob Dylan, later Jimi Hendrix, hit All Along the Watchtower, performed by Afterhere. The first line, “there must be some kind of way outta here,” is so appropriate to Becky it could almost be her motto.

The series also brilliantly uses Madonna’s Material Girl as Becky makes another move in her master plan. It’s a fun and fresh addition but don’t worry, it’s done sparingly.

6. Olivia Cooke is perfect as the wily Becky

Cooke is relatively unknown compared to many of her co-stars, but she shines as Becky.

This is the first time she has been the star of her own show and she nails Becky’s ability to go from light-hearted and charming to selfish and cunning.

Michael Palin as William Makepeace Thackeray

7. The author appears as narrator

William Makepeace Thackeray, played by Monty Python legend Michael Palin, appears at the start of every episode to introduce what is happening in the story. He is like a ringmaster, while the characters whirl around on a brightly-lit carousel behind him. 

Interestingly, Palin almost only had a cameo, but writer Gwyneth Hughes loved his work so much they asked him to be in every episode.

8. It’s a who’s-who of incredible British actors

As well as Michael Palin, there’s Martin Clunes (Doc Martin), who is hilarious as the lecherous Sir Pitt Crawley, Doctor Foster’s Suranne Jones as school headmistress Miss Pinkerton, and Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter) as Miss Matilda Crawley. Becky’s interactions with these three characters are some of the funniest and best moments of the series.

Other famous faces include Richie Campbell from Liar, The Death of Stalin’s Simon Russell Beale and Game of Thrones actor Robert Pugh. 

9. The critics are loving it

Radio Times called it a “pitch-perfect dramatization”, while The Guardian says it “feels as energetic and sparkly as a social climber’s zeal”. 

Vanity Fair airs Sundays at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1.

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