Starz is developing a slate of series inspired by “extraordinary women of history” and has set a drama about Eleanor of Aquitaine from A Discovery Of Witches writer Susie Conklin and Playground Entertainment as the first in the strand.
The network has optioned the rights to historian Alison Weir’s biography Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life and its companion novel Captive Queen for the first series.
Conklin, who has also worked on BBC drama Cranford, will adapt and serve as an exec producer, alongside Scott Huff and David Stern for Playground Entertainment, Colin Callender’s company behind Starz’ The Spanish Princess.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was previously played by Katharine Hepburn in 1968 feature The Lion in Winter.
It is the latest in a long line of female focused-period dramas for the network, which has found success with the likes of Outlander, The White Queen and The White Princess.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages, born in 1122 and dying in 1204. She was queen of France and England as a result of her marriages to Louis VII of France and Henry II of England and was independently the duchess of Aquitaine.
Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life was originally published in 1999 and followed by Captive Queen in 2010. Weir is currently working on two concurrent series of books: Six Tudor Queens, comprising six novels on the wives of Henry VIII (with associated e-books, above), and England’s Medieval Queens, a quartet of historical works of non-fiction.
Senior Vice President of Original Programming Karen Bailey is the Starz executive overseeing Eleanor of Aquitaine, while Senior Vice President of Lionsgate Television Jocelyn Sabo is overseeing the series on behalf of Lionsgate.
“This slate of series will focus on lesser known but undeniably exceptional female historical figures while continuing the exploration of fierce characters in history,” said Christina Davis, President of Programming for Starz. “Alison Weir’s novels are the perfect jumping off point for this collection of series from Playground, who are known for their sophisticated storytelling.”
Conklin added, “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to bring Eleanor’s story to life – the drama and adventures she experienced are truly epic. I’m also captivated at how a woman who lived over 800 years ago can be so strikingly modern. She’s determined to live her life on her own terms, and the way she goes about that are extraordinary.”
“We’re excited to partner with Starz and Lionsgate to bring Alison Weir’s acclaimed biography and novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine to television,” said Huff and Stern. “Eleanor presided over a magnificent, progressive court filled with scandal and intrigue, and we’re thrilled with Susie’s bold and provocative take on this fascinating story.”
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