Passion Pictures and Welsh indie Kailash Films are to tell the “definitive” story of the hunt for ‘Mr Nice’ aka Howard Marks – the world’s most notorious cannabis smuggler.

Co-commissioned by BBC Factual and BBC Cymru Wales, the series tells the story of how Marks, who grew up in a Welsh valley’s village, dabbled in dealing weed while at Oxford university, before building a worldwide drug-smuggling empire (and even working for MI6) at the height of the war on drugs. For decades he managed to evade prosecution whilst writing books and appearing on television advocating decriminalisation. But then one day, his luck finally ran out.

Hunting Mr Nice is told from both sides of the law, with unique access to his network of former smugglers and to the DEA agents and police who devoted their lives to bringing him to justice. The doc also features journalists, lawyers and Marks’ friends and is filmed across the US, UK, Spain and the Philippines and features new archive and drama recon.

Nick Andrews, Head of Content Commissioning, BBC Wales, said: “Howard Marks was a fascinating character – a boy from the Welsh valleys village of Kenfig Hill who secured a place in Oxford but swapped academia for the life of an international smuggler, becoming Britain’s most infamous drug dealer in the process. Despite having links to the Yakuza, the IRA, the Mafia and MI6, Marks was known for his charm and charisma, more interested in changing the marijuana laws than indulging in criminality. Although, as this terrific documentary boxset reveals, the story behind the legend of Howard Marks was much more complex.”

Gwenllian Hughes, Co-Series Producer/Director and Creative Director of Kailash said: “It’s an honour to be able to tell the real story of a home-grown legend… we’ve all been raised with the myth of Howard Marks and I’m so excited to deep-dive into this incredible story.”

Nick Leader, Co-Series Producer/Director said: “With marijuana now legal in most of the US, it’s the perfect time to be able to explore this topic with a bit of hindsight.”

Céire Clark, Senior Acquisitions Manager, International at Fremantle said: “Hunting Mr Nice is a remarkable tale and we’re looking forward to telling Howard Marks’ fascinating story through the lens of those who knew him best. We’re delighted to be working with Passion Pictures, Kailash Film and the BBC – we can’t wait to share this jaw-dropping story globally.”

Hunting Mr Nice 2×60 is a BBC Factual and BBC Wales co-commission for BBC Two and iPlayer commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries and Nick Andrews, Head of Content Commissioning, BBC Wales. It is being made by Passion Pictures and Kailash Films where the Co-Series Producer/Directors are Gwenllian Hughes and Nick Leader. The Commissioning Editor for BBC Factual is Tom Pullen and the Commissioning Editor for BBC Wales is Julian Carey. Fremantle is handling international distribution for the documentary.

Jon Creamer

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