It is set six years after his marriage to Elizabeth Bennett at the end of Austen’s classic novel, which was published in 1813.
Daniel Percival, who won a Bafta for directing Dirty War, admitted having sleepless nights about using Mr Darcy as a different character in a murder-mystery tale.
He said: “There were moments when I did worry about what the ‘Janeites’ would think about me toying with their favourite characters.
“There will be purists who believe it’s an abomination to dare do anything to Austen, but actually the world owns these characters and looks forward to seeing the story continue.”
Anna Maxwell-Martin, who plays Lizzie Bennett in the new production, said: “The first week Matthew and I were slightly nervous that we had been miscast. We felt we were probably better suited for a biopic of The Krankies. Ultimately, it’s six years on so there are new things to explore in the characters. You can’t worry too much, some people will love it, some people will hate it.”
Percival also revealed that the plot is unlikely to test the deductive powers of his viewers.
He added: “In terms of a murder-mystery, you could write it in the back of your notebook. It’s not a fantastically complex novel, but it is a fantastically rich and complex character journey.”
Death Comes To Pemberley also stars Doctor Who companion Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham and Matthew Goode as her husband George Wickham. Trevor Eve and Penelope Keith, meanwhile, lend a little gravitas as Sir Selwyn Hardcastle and Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
It was commissioned by the BBC to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Austen’s novel and filmed at Harewood House and Castle Howard, both in Yorkshire, and at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire over the summer.
The three-part drama is expected to air on consecutive nights between Christmas and the New Year.