Screenwriter and Endeavour creator, Russell Lewis, has adapted two of international bestseller Peter James’ novels for ITV from the Roy Grace series starring John Simm in the lead role of the tenacious detective.

Entitled Grace, the 2 x 120 screenplays will narrate the first two stories in the series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead, which introduced Brighton based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a hard-working police officer who has given his life to the job.  

Co-produced by Second Act Productions, Tall Story Pictures and Vaudeville Productions, the drama opens with Grace’s career at rock bottom. He’s fixated by the disappearance of his beloved wife, Sandy, which haunts his thoughts.  He’s in the last chance saloon running enquiries into long forgotten cold cases with little prospect of success. Following another reprimand for his unorthodox police methods, Grace is walking a career tightrope and risks being moved from the job he loves most.

Grace will begin filming in Brighton during the early months of 2020 with executive producers Andrew O’Connor and Paul Sandler for Second Act Productions, Patrick Schweitzer for Tall Story Pictures, Michael Vine for Vaudeville Productions, and Russell Lewis and Peter James.  The first film, Dead Simple, will be directed by John Alexander (Belgravia, Trust Me, Jamestown) with the second film, Looking Good Dead, directed by Julia Ford (Sticks and Stones, The Bay II, Safe).

Part of ITV Studios, Second Act Productions was created in 2015 by Andrew O’Connor and Paul Sandler to focus primarily on scripted comedy and entertainment commissions.  Grace is the company’s first scripted drama commission for ITV.

Commented Andrew O’Connor and Paul Sandler on behalf of Second Act:"We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Russell Lewis and Peter James, two of the greatest writers around and to have the chance to bring Grace alive on screen. Like so many other readers, we’ve been fans of the Grace books since they first appeared, so this is a fantastically exciting project for us.”

Co-founded by Creative Director Catherine Oldfield in 2016, Tall Story Pictures is responsible for producing The Bay, Sticks and Stones and Bancroft for ITV.  Previous commissions include Mike Bartlett’s Trauma starring John Simm and Adrian Lester, Tutankhamun and Lucan. Patrick Schweitzer executive produces Grace on behalf of Tall Story Pictures.

Commented Patrick Schweitzer: "We’re thrilled to be involved in bringing these wonderful novels to the screen, with DSI Roy Grace being played by the marvellous John Simm we couldn’t wish for anyone more perfect to bring this role to life."

Writer Russell Lewis is also known for his work on Morse, Lewis, Murphy’s Law, Sharpe’s Peril and Kavanagh QC.

Commented Russell Lewis: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be involved in bringing Peter James’ brilliantly gripping series of Roy Grace novels to ITV.   Each story is a fantastic, hair-raising, twisting, switch-back of a roller-coaster ride that grips the reader from first to last, and the opportunity to translate that best-selling magic to television is like all one’s Christmases and birthdays come at once.  As his millions of fans and admirers are well aware, Peter’s meticulous research and eye for detail is the stuff of legend.  His long established, close relationship with the police, taken together with a knowledge of Brighton and the South Coast that is the sole preserve of the born and bred lends his stories an unimpeachable veracity of place and procedure.  That John Simm will be breathing flesh to the bones of Roy Grace really is the cherry on a dark, and troublingly encrimsoned cake…”

ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill, and Drama Commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones have commissioned Grace for the channel. Kennair Jones will oversee production of the drama from the channel’s perspective.

Commented Huw Kennair Jones: “With the brilliant combination of Peter James, Russell Lewis and John Simm, Grace promises to be a compelling new detective series for ITV and we’re delighted to be bringing the iconic books to life with such an exciting production team.”

Commented Peter James: ‘John Simm, who actually looks like the Roy Grace of my imagination, is inspired casting!  With John in the lead, the brilliant scripting by Russell Lewis, and our wonderful production team, I’m confident that fans of my novels and of TV crime dramas in general will be in for a treat.’

ITV Studios GE will be responsible for international distribution.

Staff Reporter

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