EXCLUSIVE: Terry Pratchett fans may want to stay close to a television screen over the next couple of years: his comedy fantasy book series Discworld has become his latest work to be snapped up for a small screen adaptation. BBC Studios is developing a six-part series based on the long-running epic novel series.
I hear that Simon Allen, who has written series including Strike Back, The Musketeers and Sky’s forthcoming reboot of Das Boot, is writing the series, which has a working title of The Watch. BBC Studios is looking to set up the show as a returnable franchise. No broadcasters are currently attached but the production arm of the British public broadcaster, which is now free to sell to all third-party broadcasters, is eyeing the adaptation as a major international co-production. It is co-producing the series with Narrativia, the production company founded by Pratchett in 2012 and now run with Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna and his former business manager Rob Wilkins. The series is being exec produced by BBC Studios’ Head of Drama London Hilary Salmon, who has worked on series such as Luther and Silent Witness.
Discworld is a fictional flat disc world, balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. It’s not clear which element of the Discworld series will be the focus but a previously attempted remake was set in the principal city of Ankh-Morpork. The urban-set stories follow the clashes between the fantasy world and modern civilization and largely revolve around the growth of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from a hopeless gang of three to a fully equipped police force. This force is run by Sam Vimes, a cynical, working-class street cop who battles dragons with other charactrs including werewolves, trolls and zombies. It would be perfect for a Pratchett-style CSI crime of the week procedural cop drama with supernatural elements.
The Watch would be the latest Pratchett adaptation and follows Good Omens, the Michael Sheen and David Tennant-fronted remake for SVOD service Amazon and BBC Two. Filming on the six-part series, based on the book by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, kicked off in September with the series set to air in 2019. The show, which is filmed in London, Oxfordshire and locations in South Africa, is equal parts humor and horror and fantasy and drama and tells the story of the end of the world, populated with angels and demons, not to mention an 11 year-old Antichrist, witch-finders and the four horsepeople of the Apocalypse. Gaiman is writing and showrunning.