EXCLUSIVE: UK-based Big Talk Productions is embarking on event drama series SAS: The Originals, based on Gordon Stevens’ 2006 book, The Originals: The Secret History Of The Birth Of The SAS. James Wood, creator of the BAFTA-winning Rev, and Rupert Walters (Spooks) are teaming to pen the true story of the genesis of the British Army’s Special Air Service.

Stevens’ book is based on over 120 hours of uncovered video and audio tape about the formation of the renowned special forces unit whose birth has been shrouded in myth and mystery. It was believed that the original members of the SAS took their stories with them to the grave, but at a secret location some 20 years ago, SAS founder David Stirling and other key players, met and recorded their stories.

The series will combine the book and Wood and Walters’ extensive research to dramatize the inside story of how the SAS was formed as well as the lives and characters of the band of brothers and the legend they created. The regiment was formed during the Western Desert Campaign of WWII. By the end of the war the clandestine force had carried out dozens of successful operations. It was then disbanded and later reformed.

Big Talk, part of ITV Studios, is in discussions with UK and international broadcasters in advance of filming which is scheduled to take place in the UK, North Africa and Spain in the spring of next year. SAS: The Originals builds on the company’s expanding drama slate which includes the recent hit relaunch of Cold Feet on ITV.

Kenton Allen, chief exec of Big Talk says, “James and Rupert have written the first two hours of this sensational eight-hour event series. We have plans for a returning franchise that would chart the seismic role this phenomenal fighting force has played in a series that would follow the SAS through the course of history, way beyond the end of the war. When the chips were down, the SAS were there, changing the course of WW II in their own inimitable style.”

Wood and Walters note, “David Stirling said, ‘The Germans didn’t know what we were going to do next mainly because we didn’t know ourselves.’ This unpredictability — forged in the heat of battle — became the very cornerstone of the SAS’ effectiveness. No one knew how, where or when they would appear. As a result, they changed the face of modern warfare.”

WME reps Big Talk. International rights are handled by WME Global TV head Chris Rice, whose recent successes include The Night Manager; along with Ruth Berry, Managing Director of ITV Global Entertainment.

Executive Producers are Big Talk’s Allen, Matthew Justice and Luke Alkin alongside Wood and Walters.