The Salisbury Poisonings director Saul Dibb and Des writer Luke Neal are developing a multi-part television drama produced by Rise Films on the News International phone hacking scandal.

Thankyou and Goodbye tells the inside story behind the fall of the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, the News of the World – from the perspective of the tabloid journalists and private investigators at the heart of it all – and the extraordinary events that took place next.

Thankyou and Goodbye is billed as an epic story of criminal practice deployed on an industrial scale that becomes a powerful tale of redemption – with a closely-guarded final sting in its tail.

Saul Dibb, BAFTA-nominated director of The Salisbury Poisonings, the BBC’s highest rating drama in six years, joins forces with Luke Neal, the writer of Des, ITV’s most watched drama of 2020. The series is Executive Produced by three-time Emmy winner, Teddy Leifer.

The News of the World phone hacking scandal made headlines around the world when it was revealed that a private investigator hired by the paper had hacked the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl. The subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of over 100 people, the imprisonment of Downing Street’s Director of Communications, the resignation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, an unprecedented public inquiry into the ethical practices of the British press and, ultimately, the closure of the one of the world’s oldest and most popular newspapers, emblazoned with the immortal final headline: Thankyou and Goodbye.

While the series will explore the dramatic events leading up to this explosive revelation, it will delve beyond the well-known elements of the watershed news story. Dibb and Neal are planning an unflinching look at the scandal from the viewpoint of the newsroom where it happened, with exclusive access to the main tabloid journalists and private investigators who were charged and convicted in the aftermath – and who gave evidence against their previous employers and colleagues.

“The story of the phone hacking scandal becomes more relevant every day,” said Rise Films Managing Director, Teddy Leifer. “The scandal and subsequent inquiry exposed just how interconnected certain newspapers were with the upper echelons of the political elite. Even though the News of the World was shut down, key players implicated in the scandal continued to take up positions of influence and shape the media ecosystem that surrounds us today.”

“This is simply one of the most important, gripping and richest stories of this century – and yet we still don’t know even half of what really went on,” said director Saul Dibb. “Along with exceptional new talent Luke Neal and the brilliant Teddy Leifer and his team, I’m so excited we’re able to tell it all for the first time in dramatic form, and from the point of view of the people at the heart of it: the band of so-called ‘rogue reporters’ who then blew the whistle on those that had instructed them and the industry at large.”

“I am thrilled to collaborate with Saul and Rise Films to create a series about what I consider to be one of the most important moral crossroads of our generation,” said writer Luke Neal. “I believe by exploring – without judgement or sensationalism – the human nature of the people who contributed to this gross abuse of power, and trying to understand how and why they did this, is the only true way to stop this happening it again.”

Dibb is represented by Casarotto and WME, Neal is represented by United Agents, Rise Films is represented by UTA and ACK Media Law.

Jon Creamer

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