EXCLUSIVE: George & George, the production company run by Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine in association with Alan Partridge producer Baby Cow, is developing a TV series based on best-selling novel Old Baggage.
The company is working with U.S. producer Braven Films, the company behind Rachel Weisz’s feature film Disobedience, to develop it as a returning series after optioning the book.
Written by Lissa Evans, the book, which made the number spot on The Times best-sellers list, is a comic novel about the legacy of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and one woman’s determination to create a meaningful present in the wake of her own thrilling and revolutionary past. It follows the fiery, indefatigable and wilful, Matilda Simkin, who has made a life of righteous defiance. Once a proudly militant suffragette, her colourful past is littered with acts of bravery and rebellion but, as Mattie enters middle age, the world has moved on. It is 1928 and the once allied movement that she fought with is now irrevocably splintered and factionalised. However, the fight is far from over and she is not about to bow out quietly. When a chance encounter on Hayward’s Heath sparks an exciting idea, she embarks headlong on an ambitious new venture that pits her against a new enemy: the rising tide of pre-World War Two British fascism. What begins with hope and fervour is jeopardised by the very past Mattie is trying to re-ignite and, as she clings with blind obstinacy to her own ideals, she unwittingly threatens the friendships that hold up her world.
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Scanlan and Pepperdine, who wrote and starred together in BBC comedy Getting On, which was remade for HBO, will take on the role of Simpkin and The Flea, her lifetime companion.
The pair will produce for George & George, with Christine Langan and Nichola Martin executive producers for Baby Cow and Frida Torresblanco executive producer for Braven Films. Braven’s co-executive producers are Eric Laufer and Giovanna Randall. Katie Haines at The Agency represented the rights on behalf of Georgia Garrett at RCW.
“Lissa’s grasp of character and her immaculate feel for women’s history made this property irresistible to us as actors and now producers,” said Scanlan and Pepperdine. “The book made us laugh, it made us cry and it kept us up reading till three in the morning. We can’t wait to start to develop it for long form television.”
Evans previously wrote Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was turned into the Their Finest feature starring Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin, which was exec produced by Baby Cow CEO Christine Langan when she ran BBC Films.
Langan added, “We wanted to work with George & George because of their talent for unearthing unique stories about women and presenting them to audiences in fresh, exciting and funny ways. Lissa’s utterly charming Old Baggage is both a fascinating take on history and deeply relevant to the lives we live today.”
Executive Producer Frida Torresblanco of Braven Films said, “Old Baggage is another brilliant work from Lissa Evans, she surprises us again with a transcendent work of extreme timeliness. I’m so inspired to be working again with her on this prequel to the equally defiant Crooked Heart. This is a deeply evocative dynamic story. Her fun brave women are the authentic origin of the social changes that we relive these days.”
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