Gemma Arterton has followed her casting in the next Bond film by grabbing the lead role in a new production of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The 22-year-old won the role of Agent Fields in Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film, just months after graduating from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada).

And the actress has now been cast as Hardy's tragic heroine in a new adaptation set to begin shooting later this month.

Arterton, who starred as head girl Kelly in the recent St Trinian's movie, will be joined by Gavin and Stacey actress Ruth Jones, who is to play Tess' mother Joan.

And Jodie Whittaker, who starred alongside Arterton in St Trinian's as well as appearing opposite Peter O'Toole in the Oscar-nominated Venus, is to play Izzy.

Also confirmed for the adaptation, penned by Cold Feet and Starter for Ten writer David Nicholls, are Hans Matheson as Alec, Eddie Redmayne as Angel, and Anna Massey as Mrs D'Urberville.

Kate Harwood, the new series' executive producer, said Thomas Hardy is arguably "the most neglected of our great literary authors".

"Hardy's novel explores love, betrayal and the emotional burden of secrets locked away at the heart of a passionate, loving relationship which, when unlocked, implode with heart-breaking consequences," she added.

"David Nicholls' adaptation brings Hardy's tragic heroine, Tess, to life with verve, passion and sensitivity."

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, named the nation's 12th favourite book in a 2007 poll, will begin shooting in the West Country later this month and is to be screened in the autumn.

17/03/2008 11:04:44