The project, a co-production of Showtime and Sky Atlantic, is based on the Patrick Melrose series of semi-autobiographical novels written by Edward St. Aubyn. David Nicholls (Far From the Madding Crowd), who called Cumberbatch “the perfect Patrick Melrose,” is writing all five episodes of the TV adaptation. Search is underway for a director.
Melrose skewers the upper class as it tracks the protagonist’s harrowing odyssey from a deeply traumatic childhood through adult substance abuse and, ultimately, toward recovery. Cumberbatch’s Patrick Melrose is an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy who struggles to overcome the damage inflicted by a horribly abusive father and the mother who tacitly condoned the behavior. Each episode will follow one of the five novels, and take place over the course of a few intense days in the life of the protagonist. The settings range from the South of France in the 1960s to New York in the 1980s and Britain in the early 2000.
The limited series will begin shooting in New York, London and the South of France in August.
“We have been huge fans of these books for many years and David Nicholls’ adaptations are extraordinary.” said Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland of Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch TV.
Indeed, asked in 2013 if he could play any literary character ever, Cumberbatch shared in a Reddit Q&A that it would be Patrick Melrose.
Michael Jackson and Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball) executive produce alongside Cumberbatch and Ackland. Melrose will be the first production for Two Cities Television, the drama banner recently formed by Jackson, former Channel Four and IAC executive.
The Patrick Melrose series of novels consists of Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk and At Last. Mother’s Milk was made into a feature film in 2012, with Jack Devenport as Melrose.
Cumberbatch also recently signed on to star in and executive produce a 90-minute TV movie adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning 1987 novel The Child In Time for BBC One and Masterpiece written by Stephen Butchard. He has amassed four Primetime Emmy Award nominations and one win for his title role in BBC’s Sherlock, whose Season 5 is up in the air. He also received an Oscar nomination in 2015 for The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch, whose feature credits also include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Star Trek Into Darkness, and 12 Years a Slave, is repped by UTA, Conway Van Gelder Grant and Sloane Offer. UTA and Conway Van Gelder Grant handled the U.S. deal around the limited series.
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