E! is making a regal entry into scripted programming. The network has picked up one of its first two scripted pilots, The Royals starring Elizabeth Hurley, to series. The one-hour drama, about a fictional British Royal family set in modern London that is informed by the regal opulence of the British monarchy and framed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, hails from Lionsgate and a trio of One Tree Hill alums. OTH creator Mark Schwahn wrote and directed Royals, which he is executive producing with Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. Getting reality focused E! into the scripted space had been a priority for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment topper Bonnie Hammer. Sibling cable channel Bravo had been put on a similar path and just greenlighted its first scripted series, Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce. E!’s second pilot, musical drama Songbyrd, remains in contention. “The Royals will offer a fictional look behind the very public gilded façade of the palace gates to imagine the private, lush, fun, sexy world of the most-watched celebrity family on the planet,” said E! EVP Original Programming and development Jeff Olde said. Added the network’s scripted executive Kevin Plunkett who spearheads E!’s scripted efforts, “This is a big idea and Mark, Brian, Joe and the Lionsgate team delivered.”
Set and shot in Great Britain, Royals stars Hurley, Vincent Regan, Haley Lu Richardson, William Moseley, Alexandra Park, Tom Austen, Jake Maskall, Ukweli Roach and Oliver Milburn. It centers on Prince Liam (Moseley), who is thrust in the spotlight after his older brother, the beloved Prince Robert, is killed in a military training accident. Liam is in love with a young American woman, Ophelia (Richardson), the daughter of the royal family’s head of security who is studying art history and dance and who helps him cope with the loss of his brother and his new position as the next King of England. But her secret romance with Liam will bring her into conflict with the Queen (Hurley). The Royals add to Lionsgate TV’s history of helping upstart outlets get on the map with scripted series, including AMC with Mad Men, Showtime with Weeds, Netflix with Orange Is The New Black, and WGN America with Manhattan.