EXCLUSIVE: ITV is developing a miniseries on Ian Paterson, the infamous British surgeon who is serving a 20-year prison sentence after performing unnecessary and body-altering operations on more than 1,000 patients over a period of 14 years.
Deadline can reveal that ITV is working on the three-part series with Hat Trick Mercurio Television, the production outfit co-owned by Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio and Hat Trick Productions, the Jimmy Mulville-run indie behind Matt LeBlanc’s Golden Globe-winning Episodes.
Hat Trick Mercurio is in the process of attaching a writer to the project, which will tell an Erin Brockovich-style story of Paterson’s atrocities through the eyes of Debbie Douglas, a woman who helped run victims’ support group Breast Friends after being left “mutilated” by the surgeon.
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Douglas and her fellow Breast Friends members initially celebrated the charismatic Paterson, but ultimately turned into his most implacable opponents as they helped uncover his litany of botched operations. The majority of his victims were women and, in many cases, he lured them into medically unjustified procedures after exaggerating their risk of breast cancer. He then boasted about curing them, with Douglas saying he had a “God complex.”
An independent inquiry into Paterson’s actions concluded in February that he “lied to, deceived and exploited” his victims and was able to spin a vast web of crimes after the UK healthcare system demonstrated “willful blindness” to his behavior. Often charming with his patients, the inquiry said he bullied colleagues to get his way. The Birmingham-based surgeon was jailed in 2017, and has drawn comparisons with Harold Shipman, a British doctor who was locked up for life in 2000 after killing elderly patients with lethal doses of morphine.
Douglas is working closely with Hat Trick Mercurio to shape the ITV series and will serve as an executive producer alongside Mark Redhead and Mercurio. The show will be made in Northern Ireland, overseen by Hat Trick’s Belfast-based producer Louise Gallagher.
Deadline understands that other producers were interested in telling Douglas’ story, including ITV Studios, but Hat Trick Mercurio’s vision ultimately secured the company access. Furthermore, the series is being developed alongside a companion documentary, which will be helmed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Alison Millar. ITV declined to comment.
Hat Trick Mercurio secured its debut commission last year in the shape of BBC One’s Bloodlands. James Nesbitt stars in the “Irish noir” as a Northern Irish detective who connects a suicide note with an infamous cold case with enormous personal significance. Newcomer Chris Brandon wrote the series.
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