Little Women and Howards End producer Playground Entertainment is moving into Sherlock Holmes’ territory, developing an adaptation of Kim Newman’s novel Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.

Colin Callender’s production company, which also produced King Lear and The Dresser, has optioned the novel, written by the British film critic and author. It is developing Moriarty, published in 2011 by Titan Books, for the small screen.

Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles purports to be the memoirs of Colonel Sebastian Moran, the trusted lieutenant of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty. It tells the story of the wily, snake-like and fiercely intelligent criminal mastermind Moriarty and the violent, politically incorrect, debauched Moran, who run crime in London, owning police and other criminals.

The short story presents the pair as the dark mirror of Holmes, most recently played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC One series Sherlock, and his assistant Dr Watson. They have adventures that echo the detective’s famous cases.

Newman, who has written a number of other novels including Anno Dracula as well as Doctor Who novella Time and Relative, also wrote Ghastly Beyond Belief: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations with American Gods creator Neil Gaiman. He recently co-wrote television documentary series Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema, a BBC Four series looking at some of the most interesting stories in British movie history, which is presented by Kermode, the chief film critic for The Observer newspaper and co-presents the popular Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review for BBC Radio 5 Live.

Newman said, “I can now announce that my novel Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the d’Urbervilles is in development as a long-form TV project at Playground Entertainment. Early days yet and no other details available.”