EXCLUSIVE: BBC Studios has started drumming up interest internationally for The Birth of Daniel F Harris, the latest young adult drama from End of the F***ing World producer Clerkenwell Films.
Channel 4’s show is one of two UK entries in the Series Mania International Competition and was given a world premiere to hundreds of viewers as the Lille event gets underway.
BBC Studios, which debuted The Birth of Daniel F Harris at last month’s Showcase, co-financed with Channel 4 and therefore rest of the world rights are up for grabs.
Much like Charlie Covell’s BAFTA-winning smash hit End of the F**ing World for Channel 4 and Netflix, exec producer Petra Fried, who runs Clerkenwell with Wim De Greef, and writer Pete Jackson are hoping that this latest offering’s “authenticity of character” and “dark humorous underbelly” will appeal to buyers around the world, and they are speaking to the global streamers.
“The themes are entirely universal: we deal with loss, grief, friendship and love,” Jackson told Deadline from Series Mania.
“Young people more than ever have a shared experienced worldwide due to social media and everything has become more aligned.”
The show follows protagonist Danny (Lewis Gribben), whose mum died in a car crash when he was a baby. Overwhelmed with grief, dad Steve (Rory Keenan) bought a house in the middle of nowhere and locked his son away, telling him that the world is full of monsters. For eighteen years they just stayed in, listening to Benny Goodman records and watching old movies, until Danny’s world is turned on its head.
Jackson was inspired to write after listening to old records with his son and, no doubt in part due to End of the F***ing World’s success, Channel 4 greenlit almost immediately after Clerkenwell had pitched.
Jackson wrote the show in lockdown, which made the eight-parter about a young man trapped indoors feel even more timely, he added.
Fried said: “This is very different to a film like [Lenny Abrahamson’s Brie Larson-starring] Room in that Danny’s dad filled the home with love, not fear. Part of Danny’s journey is therefore coming to terms with the fact that what started out as something done by a loved one was nevertheless an abusive act.”
Jackson is one of a clutch of new British writers who are older in years, along with the likes of Tony Schumacher, the creator of Martin Freeman-starring The Responder, which is also being showcased at Series Mania.
Having struggled with alcoholism in his 20s, Jackson said he was able to “explore” this dark past via the writing medium and Fried praised his “new writer energy combined with lived breadth and depth that makes itself felt.”
Clerkenwell also produced five seasons of Channel 4 hit Misfits and the indie has gained a reputation for making authentic shows that genuinely relate to young adults, in an era when this demographic has been so difficult to pin down.
“Like everything it’s about character,” explained Fried, who is taking Clerkenwell in a different direction with its next show: a BBC drama featuring two 70-year-old protagonists.
“Rather than setting out to make a funny show you make a show that looks real, and humor comes from that authenticity.”
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