Paramount+ has commissioned new original UK drama series The Castaways (5 x 60”), with Sheridan Smith and Céline Buckens cast in the lead roles.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Lucy Clarke, The Castaways will be produced by Clapperboard Studios and BlackBox Multimedia, with the show filming on location in Greece and Fiji from next month.

The adaptation of Clarke’s thriller sees sisters Lori (Sheridan Smith: “Mrs Biggs”, “The C Word”, “Cilla”) and Erin (Celine Buckens: “Showtrial”, “Warhorse”, “The Ex-Wife”) on the holiday of a lifetime in Fiji. After a huge fight, Erin never boards the island-hopping flight to their tropical resort – and the plane, with Lori on board, never arrives at its destination.  

Months later, no wreckage has been found, no survivors discovered. With the search abandoned, Erin remains a lone, desperate voice refusing to give up hope. Suddenly, Lori’s credit card is used in a corner shop in a remote village in Fiji. On the CCTV, Erin recognises the plane’s pilot back from the dead. She immediately sets out from the UK to find him and discover the mystery of her sister’s fate.

Jumping between the two sisters’ perspectives, we follow Erin’s present day investigation and Lori’s struggle for survival following the crash onto a tropical and remote desert island. As dark secrets are revealed both in the past and present day, each shocking twist and turn slowly reveals the truth about what happened to Lori and her fellow passengers – a truth that someone on the island will kill to keep secret.

Sheridan Smith said: “I’m so excited to be working with Céline Buckens and to be part of this amazing production bringing Lucy Clarke’s best selling novel to life. And, as I’m currently playing Shirley Valentine in London’s West End, it’s ironic that I finally get to go Greece!”

Céline Buckens added: “I’m really thrilled to bring Erin to life – she’s a firecracker and the scripts bring layers and darkness to such an arresting premise. I hope audiences will be as hooked watching it as I was reading it.”

Author Lucy Clarke said: “I’m so delighted that The Castaways is being made for Paramount+. It promises to be an incredible adaptation; the scriptwriting is electric, and Sheridan and Céline are perfectly cast as Lori and Erin. It is such fun working with the teams at Clapperboard and BlackBox who couldn’t be more passionate about bringing my novel to life.”

Produced by Clapperboard Studios and BlackBox Multimedia, The Castaways sees Ben Harris (“Young Wallander”, “Devils”, “Marcella”) serve as executive producer on the series. Also acting as lead writer, Ben is sharing episode writing responsibilities with Polly Buckle and Jesse O’Mahoney. Andy Tohill and Ryan Tohill (“Dagliesh”, “The Dig”) are directors for the show, with Myf Hopkins serving as the producer.

Mike Benson is executive producer for Clapperboard, whilst Giuliano Papadia and Chiara Cardoso are executive producers for Blackbox Multimedia. The Castaways was ordered by Sebastian Cardwell, Deputy Chief Content Officer, UK, at Paramount, and will be distributed globally by BBC Studios.

On the announcement, Clapperboard’s Mike Benson said: “Both ourselves and Blackbox are absolutely delighted to be working once again with two of the UK’s most remarkable actresses in Sheridan and Céline.

“In Ben Harris we have one of the most empathetic and thrilling writers and both he and the writing team have done a tremendous job adapting Lucy’s gripping novel. We’re determined to deliver a fantastic series for our friends and partners at Paramount+ and BBC Studios.”

Picture credit: Sheridan Smith / © Nick James, Céline Buckens / © Phil Sharp

Jon Creamer

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