I have unilaterally decided to designate today as Bulgakov Day, thanks to the fact that Sky Arts are showing two programmes relating to the Great Man today! The first is a new four-part adaptation of  “A Young Doctor’s Notebook”:

Their press blurb goes like this:

“Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe will appear in an extraordinary new series for Sky Arts, based on the memoirs of a Russian doctor working during the Russian Revolution, as part of the brand new series of Playhouse Presents…

A Young Doctor’s Notebook, which will broadcast on Sky Arts in 2013, is a unique four-part comedy drama based on a collection of short stories by the celebrated Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov.

Jon Hamm will take on the role of the older doctor, who has a series of bleakly comic exchanges with his younger self, played by Daniel Radcliffe.

Jon Hamm said: “I am thrilled to get the opportunity to work on such rich source material with such fantastically talented people whose work I greatly respect, and to continue the relationship with Sky who have taken such good care of Mad Men since acquiring it.  Clelia Mountford and Big Talk have been championing this project unabashedly and I share their great enthusiasm for bringing something original, dark, funny and moving to light. Also, I have been watching “Bridget Jones’s Diary” on infinite loop, and I think I’ve finally got this accent thing sorted…”

Daniel Radcliffe added: “I have been an obsessive Bulgakov reader for a couple of years now so when the opportunity to become involved in this project came up, I could barely contain my excitement. The book is funny, grotesque and heartfelt in equal measure and I look forward to working with a great group of people to help bring it to life”.

Produced by multi award-wining Big Talk Productions in association with Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt’s Point West Pictures, the drama recounts Bulgakov’s semi-autobiographical experiences as a young doctor working in the small village of Muryovo at the dawn of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Recounting from his notebooks, the Doctor considers his life and career as he tries to treat the patients of a village that is struggling to enter the modern age. Dealing not only with the superstitious and poorly educated patients but with his own inner demons, the doctor reveals doubts about his own competence and struggles with the immense burden of medical responsibility.

Mikhail Bulgalov is widely considered to be one of the finest Russian writers of all time. His allegorical and most famous novel The Master and Margarita has been called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.”

Mention of “The Master and Margarita” leads on to the fact that Sky Arts 2 are showing the 2005 Russian adaptation of the book, also starting tonight.

I confess I’m a little divided about this. While I’m happy that Bulgakov is getting more attention, I always have reservations about film or television versions of books that I love. Bulgakov is an author I feel strongly about and whose work I’m intending to revisit soon. So it may be that I’ll record these programmes and watch them at a later date when I’ve re-read Bulgakov.

But it amazes me to think that M&M couldn’t be published in Russia until 1967 and yet in 2005 it was produced there as a TV show – how times have moved on….