Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger has announced over 47 hours of new commissions, including adaptations of A Suitable Boy, Black Narcissus, The War of the Worlds and Little Women.
The slate includes projects from writers such as Andrew Davies, Heidi Thomas, Russell T Davies and Danny Brocklehurst, and directors like Stephen Poliakoff and Stephen Frears.
The shows are produced by indies including Neal Street, Red, DNA Films, Mammoth Screen, Sister Pictures, Playground, Blueprint, Rollem, Snowed-In and Little Island.
Wenger said that in a world of ever more drama content, BBC drama had to deliver the unexpected and to be clear on what sets it apart.
"I want us to be less bound by conventions of genre, slot and channel even when considering new work. We know that the biggest risks deliver the biggest hits and in a landscape which is so fast changing, ideas need to be well ahead of the curve. And that means giving ourselves maximum creative headroom to allow ideas to develop and grow.
"I also want a strong streak of Britishness to run through the centre of everything we do. It gives us distinctiveness in a crowded landscape and a strong identity internationally. I think that it’s the individuality, chutzpah, determined vision and tireless curiosity at the heart of Britain’s creative community which has played a huge part in turning drama from the UK into such a valuable cultural export and so I’d like the next five years of drama from the BBC to be a celebration of British authorship, identity and life in all its most diverse forms.”
Giri/Haji (8×60’) (Duty/Shame)
From Joe Barton, the writer of Our World War and Humans, comes an eight-part crime series about a middle-aged Tokyo detective (Kenzo) who travels to London in search of his wayward younger brother (Yuto). Once thought dead, Yuto is now believed to be posing as a Yakuza gangster in London and wanted for the murder of a Japanese businessman there.
Giri/Haji has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore for BBC One, and Elizabeth Bradley and Alex Sapot for Netflix, and is a Sister Pictures production. Executive Producers are Jane Featherstone, Chris Fry and Joe Barton for Sister Pictures, and Piers Wenger for the BBC. Giri/Haji will make its world premiere on BBC One and Netflix will stream the series globally outside of the UK.
From Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani, two new writers for television, comes Informer – a contemporary thriller about a young, second generation Pakistani man from East London who is coerced by a Counter-Terrorism officer to go undercover and inform for him.
Informer will be produced by Neal Street Productions (Call The Midwife, The Hollow Crown) for BBC One. Executive producers are Nicolas Brown and Julie Pastor for Neal Street Productions, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC.
The War Of The Worlds (3×60’)
From Peter Harness comes the first British television adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War Of The Worlds, produced by Mammoth Screen for BBC One.
Horsell Common in Surrey is struck by a huge meteor, and the inhabitants of Earth slowly fall victim to a vicious invasion. The three-part drama follows one man’s attempt to escape the ruthless Martians – but they are determined to destroy all human life as they attempt to conquer the earth…
The War Of The Worlds has been written by Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, Wallander) and will be produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, The City And The City, The Witness For The Prosecution, NW) for BBC One. Filming will begin early 2018.
Black Narcissus (3×60’)
From writer Amanda Coe (Apple Tree Yard, Life in Squares) comes a new three-part BBC One adaptation of Black Narcissus, Rumer Godden’s tale of sexual repression and forbidden love.
Returning thislove story to its original setting in the 1930s, Black Narcissus follows Sister Clodagh and the nuns of St Faiths, who travel to Nepal to set up a branch of their order in the remote palace of Mopu.
The series will be produced by DNA Films (Ex-Machina, Far From the Madding Crowd) for BBC One, with Producer Tom Winchester, and Executive Producers Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich for DNA; and Lucy Richer for the BBC.
A Suitable Boy (8×60’)
Andrew Davies will adapt Vikram Seth’s bestseller A Suitable Boy for BBC One. About a young woman’s search for love and identity in a newly independent, post-Partition India, the novel has never been adapted for the screen before.
It is a Lookout Point (War And Peace, Les Misérables) production for BBC One. Executive Producers are Andrew Davies and Vikram Seth, Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester for Lookout Point, and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The series will be filmed on location in India.
Little Women (3×60’)
Based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is being adapted by Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife) and is directed by Vanessa Caswill (Thirteen, My Mad Fat Diary). Principal photography is set to begin in July and casting will be announced in due course.
Little Women will be produced by Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End) for BBC One. The series is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS. The producer is Susie Liggat. Executive producers are Colin Callender and Sophie Gardiner for Playground, Heidi Thomas, Lucy Richer for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece.
A Very English Scandal (3×60’)
Based on the book A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies And A Murder Plot At The Heart Of The Establishment, by journalist John Preston, the drama is written by Russell T Davies and directed by Stephen Frears. A Very English Scandal is the true story of Jeremy Thorpe, first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder.
A Very English Scandal will be produced by Blueprint Pictures (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, In Bruges) for BBC One. Executive producers are Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin for Blueprint Pictures and Lucy Richer for the BBC.
Come Home (3×60’)
What does it take for a mother to walk out on her family, leaving her children behind? What impact does it have, and how do others judge her? From Danny Brocklehust, Come Home explores the messy realities of parenthood, marriage, and what happens when a mother switches the reset button on their life.
Come Home will be produced by Red Production Company (Happy Valley, Last Tango In Halifax) for BBC One, and the Executive producer for Red Production Company is Nicola Shindler. Filming will start in Northern Ireland later this year.
The Wilsons (w/t, 3×60’)
Inspired by a true story and written by Anna Symon, this three-part drama is set in 1960s London, 1940s London and India in the 1930s. In 1963, Alison Wilson thinks she is a normal, happily married woman. But when her husband Alec suddenly dies, a woman turns up on her doorstep, claiming that she is the real Mrs Wilson. Alison is determined to prove the validity of her own marriage – and Alec’s love for her – but is instead led into a world of dark and troubling secrets. Alec was a British spy and a best-selling novelist.. .but what else besides? Where did his truth end and his fiction begin? Alison will be pushed to the very brink to find out.
Ruth Wilson, who will star and Executive Produce said: "I am so excited to bring to the small screen the extraordinary lives of my grandparents. Theirs is a profoundly moving story and the BBC is the perfect home for it."
The Wilsons will be produced by Snowed-In Productions for BBC One. Written by Anna Symon (Indian Summers). Executive Producers are Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Luther), Ruth Kenley-Letts (Strike, The Casual Vacancy), and Neil Blair (Strike, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) for Snowed-In Productions and Lucy Richer for the BBC.
Summer Of Rockets (6×60’)
Stephen Poliakoff’s semi-autobiographical Summer Of Rockets is a six-part series for BBC Two produced by Little Island Productions. Set in the UK during the tumultuous year of 1957. Fear and excitement of the future permeates the lives of all, as Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb, the Prime Minister declares that "most of our people have never had it so good", the Soviets launch their first ballistic missile and beat the Americans by successfully sending a Satellite into space. All this washed down with the emergence of Elvis and rock ‘n’ roll.
The Summer Of Rockets is written and directed by tPoliakoff (Close To The Enemy, Lost Prince, Shooting The Past). Helen Flint (Snatch, Close To The Enemy, Longford, The Take, Galavant) will executive produce for Little Island Productions and Lucy Richer for the BBC.
Based on Eva O’Connor’s play, Overshadowed tells the story of a young girl called Imogene (Imo) whose life spirals out of control when she meets the monster of anorexia personified. The eight-part short-form series has been written by television newcomers Eva O’Connor and Hildegard Ryan, and will be produced by Kay Mellor’s Rollem Productions for BBC Three.
Overshadowed will be produced by Rollem Productions (Love, Lies And Records, In The Club, The Syndicate). Executive Producers are Kay Mellor for Rollem Productions and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC.
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