BritBox announces originals featuring Irvine Welsh, Anthony Horowitz and Cush Jumbo
James R | On 22, Jul 2020
BritBox has announced four new commissions, with a host of impressive names involved in its first slate of originals.
The streaming service, a joint venture from ITV and the BBC, launched last year and has been gradually expanding its library of British box sets with a growing number of exclusives as they depart other subscription platforms. When it launched, it also promised new originals in the future. Now, after first greenlighting the return of Spitting Image, it’s finally unveiled four scripted projects.
First up is A Spy Among Friends, a limited series based on the best-selling book written by Ben Macintyre and produced by ITV Studios’ BAFTA award-winner Patrick Spence (Fortitude, The Eddy).
Second is The Beast Must Die, a five-part revenge thriller starring Cush Jumbo. Produced by New Regency Television and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free, it’s based on the novel by Nicholas Blake (pen name of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis CBE). It tells the story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of the man she believes killed her son. Jared Harris, Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon, On Chesil Beach) and Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Outcast, Vanity Fair) will also star.
The Beast Must Die is being directed by Dome Karukoski (Tolkien, Tom of Finland), produced by Sarada McDermott (Bridgerton, Official Secrets) and adapted for the screen by screenwriter Gaby Chiappe (Their Finest, Shetland, Vera).
Ed Rubin, Head of New Regency Television International said: “We are tremendously excited to be bringing Nicholas Blake’s gripping novel to the screen, as the first drama for New Regency Television out of the UK – and one of the first BritBox originals. It’s been adapted brilliantly by Gaby, and we couldn’t ask for a more talented cast and team to bring it to life.”
Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) will also adapt his first TV drama for BritBox, with his novel Crime coming to the screen. Welsh will pen the script alongside long-standing screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh (Wedding Belles). Set in Edinburgh and directed by James Strong (Liar, Broadchurch) the six-episode series will star Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2, Hitman, My Week with Marilyn) as Detective Inspector Ray Lennox, who is investigating the disappearance of a schoolgirl while battling his own personal demons.
Crime is produced by Buccaneer Media, Tony Wood and Dougray Scott. Executive producers are Irvine Welsh, Dean Cavanagh, Richard Tulk-Hart and James Strong.
Welsh said: “Delighted that BritBox have picked this up. Lennox is a compelling character for me, not so much a cop as a broken avenging angel. So don’t expect a run of the mill cop show, and nonces beware.”
And finally, Magpie Murders is adapted from the bestseller written by Anthony Horowitz OBE. It has been commissioned by BritBox alongside MASTERPIECE on PBS and will be produced by Eleventh Hour Films.
A beguiling murder mystery with a solution that will both astonish and shock viewers, the plot of Magpie Murders revolves around the character Susan Ryeland, an editor who is given an unfinished manuscript of author Alan Conway’s latest novel, but has little idea it will change her life.
Horowitz said: “Magpie Murders is my most successful novel and it wasn’t easy to adapt. But I think the result is a completely original drama that will delight and beguile audiences in equal measure.”
Reemah Sakaan, Group Director ITV SVOD and Chief Creative & Brand Officer BritBox Global said: “BritBox Originals need to be bold, bingeable and distinctively British. Creating this exceptional roll call of talent, stories and productions in our first drama slate to add exclusively to the treasure trove of BritBox boxsets from every UK PSB is something no one else can do, we can’t wait to bring them to subscribers.”