Dame Angela Lansbury and Michael Gambon will lead the cast in the new TV adaptation of classic novel Little Women.

The Louisa May Alcott book about the four young sisters on their journey from childhood to adulthood is being brought to the small screen for a three-part BBC series by Call The Midwife creator Heidi Thomas.

Oscar-winning actress Dame Angela, 91, is to take on the role of the cantankerous Aunt March, the wealthy relative of the girls.

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Michael GambonMichael Gambon (Ian West/PA)

Gambon, 76 – who has won a litany of top accolades including four TV Baftas and three Olivier Awards – will portray the March family’s benevolent neighbour Mr Laurence.

Bafta-winning actress Emily Watson, 50, will play Marmee, the family matriarch.

The roles of the sisters have been filled by up-and-coming actresses Maya Hawke – daughter of actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke – Willa Fitzgerald, Annes Elwy and Kathryn Newton, who will play Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy respectively.

Jonah Hauer-King, who appeared in TV mini-series Howards End, will play charming boy next door Laurie Laurence.

Emily WatsonEmily Watson (Lewis Whyld/PA)

American author Alcott’s coming-of-age story was first published in 1868, and has maintained its enduring popularity through the generations.

With the help of their mother Marmee while their father is away at war, the sisters navigate their way through growing up and what it means to be a woman, from gender roles to sibling rivalry, love, marriage and loss.

The series will be directed by My Mad Fat Diary’s Vanessa Caswill and produced by Playground, the entertainment production company behind TV shows including Wolf Hall and The Missing.

Principal photography on Little Women – a co-production with BBC One and Masterpiece on PBS – begins this month in Ireland.