“I absolutely hated the musical!” said Andrew Davies, who wrote the screenplay for PBS/BBC’s six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables, premiering on Masterpiece on April 14.

“I just wanted to rescue this great book,” Davis proclaimed, adding, “I’m sorry, I’d like to be more frank,” when TV critics attending TCA seemed stunned by his non-love of the musical.

The book, which Masterpiece EP Rebecca Eaton described as a “doorstop,”  is not the kind of book Davies is typically engaged with, he said, describing it as possessing “not many subtleties” and filled with “extremes – like an extra book of the Bible that we haven’t dealt with before.”

“It’s all about stuff like redemption,” he said. “I started off my life being brought up in a very religious way, which I don’t have any more, but I do that a kidn of yearning for the kind of absolutism that is in this book. It was strangely appealing to me.”

Davies hadn’t read the book until it was brought to him to adapt.

“I thought I wanted to have a go at it. I’m an old man, I don’t get scared. I’ve faced down many great books. This is just another great book.”

One critic noted Dominic West, who plays heroic Jean Valjean in this adaptation, has played a lot of characters “described as morally squishy”  and wondered if he took the role thinking “I really need a break and play somebody who had a moral core.”

West agreed entirely.

“I get a lot of villains and it was so refreshing to play a hero who is a profoundly good man,” he said, adding, “And I only want to do that from now on.”

Critics laughed.

“I really do,” he insisted. “Living with Jean Valjean is a wonderful experience. Living with Noah Solloway is not,” he said of his The Affair character.

“I played Fred West, who is the serial killer, and Iago, and some other asshole and it was a really depressing year,” West reminisced.

He admitted he has yet to read Hugo’s book – and hasn’t seen the musical.

“I love the musical! For the record!” proclaimed David Oyelowo, who is Javert in the new BBC/PBS Les Mis.