BBC One has been having a busy morning lining up prestigious filmmakers for upcoming mini-series based on equally prestigious literary works, one recent and then another based on a series of classics.
First up, Harry Potter producer David Heyman is tackling Andrea Levy’s novel The Long Song as a drama for the British network, while prolific writer/producer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Taboo) will be adapting a number of Charles Dickens novels for the BBC, beginning with a three-part A Christmas Carol to air in 2019.
Levy’s The Long Song was previously planned as a feature film with Film 4, but Heyman is taking it over with his Heyday Television in conjunction with NBC Universal. The three-part series is being written by Sarah Williams (Small Island, Case Sensitive). Roopesh Parekh serves as producer with Heyman, Levy, Williams and Rosie Alison exec. producing along with Elizabeth Kilgarriff from the BBC. It will be distributed by NBC Universal International Distribution.
Beginning in 1838, the 2010 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted The Long Song follows July, a young female slave on a Jamaican plantation who goes on to mother a gentleman, telling the story through her POV as she looks back on her life.
Best known for producing the eight Harry Potter films and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Heyman is currently producing the spin-off sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindenwald. Heyman recently signed on to co-produce Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Untitled #9 for Sony, and he also produced the family sequel Paddington 2, which was just released in the UK and will be released in North America through Warner Bros. on Jan. 12, 2018. Heyman previously produced the white collar crime trilogy Worricker for BBC2, which starred Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and Helena Bonham Carter. Heyman is repped by Bloom Hergott.
In many ways, Knight, creator of BBC’s Peaky Blinders, is taking on the more difficult project, because Dickens is far better-known source material. Knight is an avowed Dickens fan with his work influencing Peaky Blinders.
This will be the first in a series of Dickens adaptations for Knight that was commissioned by BBC Drama Controller Piers Wenger with Director of BBC Content Charlotte Moore.
The Dickens project reunites Knight with Tom Hardy. who starred in Knight’s mini-series Taboo as well as his second feature film Locke. Hardy’s Hardy Son & Baker will be producing the three-part A Christmas Carol along with Knight and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London, who also produced Taboo. The latest take on Ebeneezer Scrooge’s Christmas Eve quest for redemption will be exec. produced by Knight, Scott, Hardy, Kate Crowe and Dean Baker, alongside Wenger.
Repped by CAA, United Agents and Nelson Davis, Knight has been almost as busy as Heyman with a lot of his projects coming to fruition in the past few months. Knight was at the Toronto Film Fest in Sept., having written the screenplay for Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead starring Jessica Chastain, and he also wrote the screenplay for November Criminals, directed by Sacha Gervais, which will get a limited release in the U.S. on Dec. 8. Knight also wrote the screenplay for Sony’s upcoming thriller The Girl in the Spider’s Web and a draft of World War Z 2 for Paramount. Knight is currently in post on Serenity, his third feature as a director, this one starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane.
Taboo will also return for a second season next year while Tom Hardy also appears in the 4th season of Knight’s other BBC show Peaky Blinders, currently airing in the UK on BBCTwo. (It will air on Netflix starting Dec. 21.) There is no word whether Hardy will appear in A Christmas Carol or any of the planned Dickens adaptations.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor
Knight’s ‘SERENITY’ looks amazing. Great cast – gotta love McConaughey, Hathaway and Diane Lane.