Series based on The Ladies Paradise tells story of a young girl in 1890s working in department store after death of her father

The writer of Lark Rise to Candleford is to return to BBC1 with a new series based on French novelist Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, a rags to riches story about a young girl in the 1890s.

Bill Gallagher’s adaptation of Flora Thompson’s memoir of her Oxfordshire childhood into the series Lark Rise to Candleford has proved a hit with BBC1’s Sunday night audience.

His reworking of Zola’s novel will focus on the adventures of a young girl who falls in love with the intoxicating charms of the modern world while working in the glamorous world of the first ever department store in a booming northern city.

“This project has been close to my heart for a long time and I’m thrilled to be making it with the BBC,” said Gallagher. “The Ladies’ Paradise is set at exactly the same time as Lark Rise – but now we’re in the city, at a time of great change and upheaval, so the series is exciting and constantly dramatic.”.

He added that in a similar vein to Lark Rise the series will “explore the lives of a colourful cast of characters struggling to survive and flourish in difficult and dangerous times”.

The series will centre on the character of Denise who goes to work as a shop girl after being made homeless by the death of her father. She soon discovers a world of intrigues, affairs and shopfloor power struggles.

Ben Stephenson, controller of commissioning for BBC drama, described it as a “a romantic, thrilling and sexy post-watershed relationship drama”.

The show will be made by BBC Drama Productions and will air in 2013. The number of episodes is yet to be finalised.

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