The Casual Vacancy
DVD cover
Based onThe Casual Vacancy
by J. K. Rowling
Written bySarah Phelps[1]
Directed byJonny Campbell[1]
StarringMonica Dolan
Michael Gambon
Keeley Hawes
Rufus Jones
Rory Kinnear
Simon McBurney
Julia McKenzie
Abigail Lawrie
ComposerSolomon Grey
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes3[2][3]
Executive producersPaul Trijbits
Rick Senat
Neil Blair
J. K. Rowling[2]
ProducerRuth Kenley-Letts[1]
CinematographyTony Slater Ling
EditorTom Hemmings
Running time182 minutes
Production companiesBrontë Film and Television
Original release
NetworkBBC One (United Kingdom)
HBO (United States and Canada)
Release15 February (2015-02-15) –
1 March 2015 (2015-03-01)

The Casual Vacancy is a 2015 British miniseries based on the 2012 novel of the same title by J. K. Rowling.[4] Directed by Jonny Campbell and written by Sarah Phelps, the series premiered on 15 February 2015 on BBC One in the United Kingdom and on 29 April 2015 on HBO in the United States.[5]



The miniseries was announced on 3 December 2012.[4] It was commissioned from The Blair Partnership who represent J. K. Rowling. The series was produced through an independent production company operated by Neil Blair and Rick Senat (who were executive producers of the series), on behalf of The Blair Partnership. The deal was struck following discussions between Blair and BBC One Controller Danny Cohen. J. K. Rowling was to collaborate closely with the project, with the number and length of the episodes then still to be decided.[4]

On 12 September 2013, Warner Bros. announced that it will serve as the worldwide TV distributor of the series, except in the United Kingdom.[8]

After a year and a half without news on the production itself, casting was announced in June 2014. Filming began in August 2014 in the Gloucestershire towns of Painswick, Bisley, Northleach and Minchinhampton, Dauntsey, and in the city of Bristol and at Archway School.[9]

British band Solomon Grey composed the music for the series, which heavily features tracks from their 2015 album Selected Works, along with original songs.[10]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [11]
1"Episode 1"Jonny CampbellSarah Phelps15 February 2015 (2015-02-15)8.80
The village of Pagford is left in shock when a local resident dies. Pagford is seemingly an English idyll, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a community at war.
2"Episode 2"Jonny CampbellSarah Phelps22 February 2015 (2015-02-22)6.39
The parish council election approaches and Pagford is on tenterhooks awaiting the next post from 'the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother'.
3"Episode 3"Jonny CampbellSarah Phelps1 March 2015 (2015-03-01)5.95
With the parish council election imminent, tensions rise in Pagford.

Critical reception

The critical response to the opening episode was mostly positive. In a particularly praise-filled review for Digital Spy, Cameron McKewan described the series as having a "perfect cast with a biting script". He summarised: "It's a cracking first instalment for the three-part series with bountiful characters to take in, and the relationships not clearly defined from the outset (rewardingly so)"[12] In a review for The Guardian, Stuart Jeffries also gave a positive response, whilst describing the series as "The Archers meets Benefit Street"[13] Comparing the TV adaptation more positively than the novel itself, Gerard O'Donovan, in a review for The Telegraph, awarded the series opener 4 out of 5 stars. He optimistically summarised: "...the performances are uniformly good, the direction is inventive, and there's an undeniable topicality and panache to this adaptation that convinces you that just around the corner something will pull it all together and make it succeed."[14] Ellen E Jones, writing for The Independent, took a similar approach with review title: "JK Rowling's story is a far better drama than it is a book"[15]

Elsewhere, however, reception to the series opening episode was less favourable. Grace Dent of The Independent said that "it was odd to read reports that the show was attacking the middle classes and glorifying 'the noble savage'. It was glaringly clear, to me at least, from Phelps' script that while Michael Gambon's character Howard Mollison was indeed a terrible snob, we could hardly disagree that the 'feral' kids wiping bogeys down his deli window were spoiling village ambience. These were difficult notions of 'village life' – the junkies, the domestic abusers, the shark-like property developers, the upwardly mobiles, [and] the downwardly spiralling – and I applaud Rowling and Phelps for picking at them."[16]


  1. ^ a b c "BBC And HBO Adapting JK Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' For TV; Casting Calls Begin". Page to Premiere. 8 April 2014. Archived from the original on 12 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b "J.K. Rowling, HBO, BBC Team for 'Casual Vacancy' Miniseries". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  3. ^ "J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' Miniseries Coming to HBO". The Wrap. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Rowling's Casual Vacancy to become BBC TV drama series". BBC. 3 December 2012.
  5. ^ Munn, Patrick (28 January 2015). "BBC One Sets Premiere Date For 'The Casual Vacancy'". TV Wise. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Casual Vacancy (TV Mini-Series 2015)". IMDb.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Cast confirmed for BBC One adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy". BBC. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Warner Bros. Announces Expanded Creative Partnership with J.K. Rowling". Business Wire. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Archway School sets the stage for JK Rowling TV drama". Stroud News and Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Carving out the music for The Casual Vacancy". BBC. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.
  12. ^ K McEwan, Cameron (15 February 2015). "The Casual Vacancy episode 1 recap: 'Perfect cast with a biting script'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  13. ^ Jeffires, Stuart (16 February 2015). "The Casual Vacancy review: 'The Archers meets Benefits Street'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  14. ^ O'Donovan, Gerard. "The Casual Vacancy, episode 1, review: 'undeniable panache'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  15. ^ E Jones, Ellen (16 February 2015). "JK Rowling's story is a far better drama than it is a book". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  16. ^ Dent, Grace. "Ignore the BBC-bashing pillocks: The Casual Vacancy is as entertaining as it is realistic". The Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2015.