With World Book Day this week, we explore some epic book-to-TV adaptations you can watch right now
By Jon Billinge, Staff Writer
Whether you’re a sucker for a romance novel, a horror hound, or a fantasy fancier, we all love a good book. And with World Book Day landing on Thursday 3 March, there’s no better time to get stuck into something new, or revisit a personal favourite.
First celebrated in the UK in 1995, the annual charity event sees children in full-time education gifted a voucher to be spent on books, and schools holding fundraising events for children in need.
To celebrate the occasion, we’ve rifled through the On Demand library in search of some standout book-to-screen adaptations you can watch right now. Read on to discover the epic shows in the From Book To Screen collection (available in On Demand from Tuesday 1 March until Monday 14 March) and how to watch them.
The Lost Symbol
Find series 1 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
The third book in thriller writer Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon book series sees the Harvard University professor getting into yet more scrapes with secret societies, all while trying to uncover the truth behind a seemingly innocuous symbol with major implications for the world at large. Pacy and twisty, The Lost Symbol sold more than one million copies in its first day.
The ten-part TV series, released in 2021, features Ashley Zukerman (Succession) as Langford, who’s aided (and sometimes abetted) by co-stars Eddie Izzard, Beau Knapp and Rick Gonzalez. Fans of the Tom Hanks-starring films will find much to love here, while newcomers are in for a head-scratching, suspense-filled treat.
All Creatures Great And Small
Find series 1 & 2 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
Written by James Alfred Wight under the pseudonym James Herriot, All Creatures Great And Small is a series of eight books based on Wight’s real-life experiences as a veterinary surgeon in the 1930s and onwards. Beautifully written yet easy to read, the bucolic Yorkshire Dales are brought vividly to life in the books, as the characters adapt to a fast-changing world.
The most recent TV adaptation stars Nicholas Ralph as Herriot, with Rachel Shenton, Anna Madeley and Diana Rigg among the supporting cast. Debuting on Channel 5 in September 2020, its mix of slow-burning romance, drama and cute creatures (big and small) proved the perfect remedy in uncertain times. And the best part? It’s been renewed for a third and fourth season!
Rizzoli & Isles
Find series 1-7 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
With more than a dozen books in the hugely popular Rizzoli & Isles series, it’s clear author (and retired GP) Tess Gerritsen has the medical crime thriller genre cornered. Former homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and chief medical examiner Maura Isles form an unlikely alliance – not least due to their wildly different personalities – to solve crimes where others fall short.
In the series of novels, Isles doesn’t make an appearance until book 2, while in the TV adaptation the pair are tackling cases from the get-go. But have no fear purists of the written page, this decision in no way sullies the series’ trademark sororal charm and wit. Audiences circa its 2010 premiere clearly agreed, as at the time it was recognised as the US’s all-time most successful cable TV series launch. Not too shabby!
A Discovery Of Witches
Find series 1-3 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
Not, in actual fact, the collective noun for a throng of pointy-hat wearing ladies, but rather the first book in the immensely popular All Souls series of fantasy novels. The series at large is set in a land in which magical creatures and humans co-exist, though not always harmoniously. A woman’s life is turned upside down on her discovery (see?) of an ancient manuscript that awakens her long-dormant powers, together with a host of nasty ne’er-do-wells intent on securing it for themselves.
It’s not all doom and gloom, there’s vampiric romance too! The scares and sentiments are wonderfully portrayed by Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode, whose fizzing chemistry is matched only by the dazzling visuals that bring the sense of magic vivdly to life.
The title, in case you were wondering, refers to magic and other information that witches discover. Some people get all the luck, eh?
Find series 1 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
You’d be forgiven for seeing that title and thinking, “yep, period drama.” But you couldn’t be more wrong. With hard-hitting, modern-day themes, Mrs Fletcher is a frank and no-holds barred look at intimacy in all its complexity. Immensely readable and with a character for the ages in the prone-to-irony Mrs F, it’s a fly-on-the-wall look at love and the search for something more in the middle part of life.
Kathryn Hahn takes the lead as Mrs Fletcher in the TV adaptation, which doesn’t shirk away from the novel's laid-bare depictions of love, lust and addiction. Just make sure the kids/parents/grandparents are in another room...
Find series 1-4 in On Demand > From Book To Screen
In a conundrum worthy of an investigation by everyone’s favourite high-school sleuth, Veronica Mars was originally conceived as a novel by screenwriter Rob Thomas – and with a male protagonist to boot!
While the novel sadly never saw the light of day, the TV adaptation is one of the best examples of teen noir ever dreamed up. Starring none other than the inimitable Kristen Bell as high school (and later college) student/private investigator Veronica Mars, each episode sees Mars solve a different case, with a wider mystery bubbling under the surface.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
On Demand: Content available to view depends on TV package. Time limits apply for viewing chargeable On Demand content – see virginmedia.com. Once purchased, all chargeable On Demand content must be viewed within 48 hours. Premium channels and upgrades must be kept for at least 30 days.