The BBC has taken on a challenge commercial broadcasters might be reluctant to do, says head of drama Piers Wenger Getty

The BBC has announced plans to screen its first period drama featuring an entirely non-white cast after securing the rights to Vikram Seth's novel A Suitable Boy.

Published in 1993, the sprawling novel tells the story of meddling mother Rupa Mehra's efforts to find the perfect husband for her daughter, Lata. The broadcaster is set to produce an eight-part series set in post-colonial India against a backdrop of political unrest.

Seth said: "It is a great pleasure to collaborate with the BBC and Andrew Davies on an adaptation of A Suitable Boy. I have carried with me for a long time the stories of Lata, her family and the many people they encounter. With Andrew and his team I feel they are in good hands, and I greatly look forward to seeing them brought to life for television."

The Beeb's head of drama told the Telegraph that adapting the book for TV without white characters was "a deliberate gamble" but was confident it would be a success.

Piers Wenger said: "Historically, the story of British colonial rule has been the approach that British writers and producers have taken to telling a story set outside the UK.

"We are here to take creative risks and to do the sort of work that commercial broadcasters might be more reluctant to do. But we also have a real responsibility and a requirement to reflect a range of British communities."

"It's a 20th-century classic and it is obviously set outside the UK in a world which is non-white, non-British, and yet which has big universal themes at the heart of it."

Andrew Davies, the screenwriter behind House of Cards and Bridget Jones's Diary, has been enlisted to write the script and filming is scheduled to start later this year.

Wenger added: " We know that the biggest risks deliver the biggest hits and in a landscape which is so fast changing, ideas need to be well ahead of the curve."