Ripper Street star Matthew Macfadyen, Hayley Atwell from Marvel's Agent Carter and comic Tracey Ullman have all been cast in a new big-budget TV adaptation of EM Foster's classic Howards End.

The novel was previously a hit film for Merchant Ivory and memorably won an Oscar for Emma Thompson for her starring role opposite Anthony Hopkins.

The Oscar nominated writer director of Manchester By the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan is adapting Forster's turn-of-the-century novel about the English class system into a four-episode run.

In a statement a spokesperson for the BBC described Lonergan as "one of our truly great contemporary voices" ans said that his adaptation would "surprise and delight a whole new audience with its timely and relevant themes."

Hayley Atwell is also set to star in the new adaptation

The series will be the BBC's next prestige drama miniseries, following on from last year's hit version of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.

The story is told focusses on the triumphs and tragedies of the Schlegel, Wilcox and Bast families, with Hayley Atwell playing the intellectual Margaret Schlegel and Matthew Macfadyen the widower Henry Wilcox. Tracey Ullman appears as the ailing Aunt Juley.

The 1992 film adaptation of Howards End bagged Emma Thompson an Oscar for her performance as Margaret Schlegel, and earned nominations for co-star Vanessa Redgrave and director James Ivory.

This high-profile international TV project is particularly welcome news for Atwell, whose latest US series Conviction is unlikely to return for a second season.

She previously played the globetrotting hero Peggy Carter in multiple Marvel Studios movies as well as her own short-lived Agent Carter TV spin-off.