Working Title Television has set a six-part drama series based on 2013 Man Booker Prize winner The Luminaries at BBC Two. Author Eleanor Catton will adapt her own novel. The period tale of adventure and mystery is set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush. It’s billed as an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women traveled across the world to make their fortunes.
Working Title Television will produce for BBC Two with Catton and WTT’s Andrew Woodhead, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner exec producing. Lucy Richer exec produces for the BBC. Shooting is due to start on location in and around New Zealand next year.
Kicking off in 1865, the story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain. But Anna must survive the dangerous world, where shipwreck and murder, blackmail and betrayal, greed, gold and false imprisonment all conspire to keep her apart from Emery. The star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: Do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?
Catton is the youngest winner ever of the Man Booker; a prize that twice went to Hilary Mantel whose Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies were adapted as Wolf Hall for BBC One. Catton was born in Canada and raised in New Zealand and The Luminaries is her second book following 2008’s The Rehearsal, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. “Learning to write for television has been a bit like learning a new musical instrument: the melody is more or less the same, but absolutely everything else is different,” she says.
BBC Two is the home of such hit dramas as Peaky Blinders, The Fall and the Working Title produced thriller London Spy. The production company also recently made Sky/NBC comedy-drama, You Me And The Apocalypse; Sky fantasy-comedy Yonderland; BBC One’s True Love and The Secrets; and NBC’s About A Boy.