BritBox UK, the streaming service created by ITV and the BBC, today confirmed four original commissions that will debut exclusively on the service.
In addition to A Spy Among Friends, the limited series based on the best-selling book (check price at Amazon) written by Ben Macintyre and produced by ITV Studios’ BAFTA award-winner Patrick Spence (Fortitude, The Eddy), BritBox UK has greenlit dramas The Beast Must Die, Crime and Magpie Murders.
The Beast Must Die, an original British five-part revenge thriller, is being produced by New Regency Television and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free. New Regency is also the international distributor on the production.
Starring Cush Jumbo OBE (The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Deadwater Fell), Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon, On Chesil Beach) and Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Outcast, Vanity Fair) and based on the novel (check price at Amazon) by Nicholas Blake (pen name of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis CBE), The Beast Must Die tells the story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of the man she believes killed her son. Bafta, Golden Globe & Emmy nominated Jared Harris (Chernobyl, The Crown, Mad Men) is also poised to 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). The executive producers are Ed Rubin and Emma Broughton for New Regency, Marina Brackenbury and David W Zucker for Scott Free, Nathaniel Parker and Gaby Chiappe.
“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,” said Ed Rubin, Head of New Regency Television International. “It’s been adapted brilliantly by Gaby, and we couldn’t ask for a more talented cast and team to bring it to life.”
Marina Brackenbury, Head of TV and Film at Scott Free UK, added: “The Beast Must Die is both intensely emotional and thrilling, with a fresh and exciting psychology at play between all the characters; Dome and our stellar cast each bring a very personal take to the material which – along with our partners New Regency, BritBox and Nathaniel Parker – we feel will undoubtedly translate as a must see for audiences.”
Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) will adapt his first TV drama, based on his novel Crime (check price at Amazon), alongside long-standing screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh (Wedding Belles). Set in Edinburgh and directed by James Strong (Liar, Broadchurch) the six-episode production 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 being produced by Buccaneer Media, Tony Wood and Dougray Scott. The executive producers are Irvine Welsh, Dean Cavanagh, Richard Tulk-Hart and James Strong.
Irvine 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.”
Crime is distributed worldwide by Cineflix Rights.
Magpie Murders is adapted from the bestseller (check price at Amazon) written by Anthony Horowitz OBE. It has been commissioned by BritBox alongside MASTERPIECE on PBS and will be produced by Eleventh Hour Films.
Magpie Murders topped multiple best-seller lists. Its international awards included the prestigious Macavity Award for Best Novel.
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.
Jill Green of Eleventh Hour Films said: “This is an extraordinary and distinctive drama. I don’t think there’s ever been a crime show like it with a strong female lead treading the line between reality and fiction as she fights to uncover the truth.”
Anthony Horowitz added: “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.”
Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television who leads BritBox UK Originals, commented: “BritBox stands for the best of British and with this high calibre slate of Original Drama commissions, we are bringing the very best of UK creative talent to a UK streamer for the first time.”