BBC Adapting Cecil Day-Lewis’ ‘The Beast Must Die’ Into Detective Drama With ‘Taboo’ Producer Scott Free London

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC is developing classic murder mystery novel The Beast Must Die into a detective drama series with Taboo producer Scott Free London.

The British public broadcaster is working up a remake of the novel, which tells the story of how respected crime writer Frank Cairns plots the perfect murder but ends up working with a top detective to clear his name.

In the book, Cairns intends to murder the hit-and-run driver who killed his young son but when his intended victim is found dead and Cairns becomes the prime suspect, the author insists that he has been framed. To solve the mystery, one of Cairns’ old friends calls in private detective Nigel Strangeways to help.

The Beast Must Die was written by Nicholas Blake, the nom de plume of poet Cecil Day-Lewis, father of Daniel Day Lewis and was first published in 1938.

Deadline understands that the BBC adaptation is being written by Gaby Chiappe, who wrote Gemma Arterton feature film Their Finest and has written on a number of British crime dramas including ITV’s The Level and Vera as well as BBC’s Shetland. It is being set up as a series, likely to be five or six episodes, and is set to be exec produced by Nathaniel Parker, the actor known the lead role in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

The series could turn into a long-running franchise for the BBC as Blake/Day Lewis wrote 15 books featuring the detective.

Produced by the UK arm of Scott Free, which is run by Ed Rubin, the show is the latest British series from Ridley Scott’s firm, having recently produced Steven Knight’s Tom Hardy-fronted Taboo for BBC One and FX, and lined up Knight’s Charles Dickens adaptation of A Christmas Carol for December 2019. In the U.S., Scott Free produces TV series including The Good Fight for CBS All Access and AMC anthology series The Terror.

The Beast Must Die has been adapted for the big screen a number of times over the years including in 1969 as an Italian thriller directed by Claude Chabrol and in 1952 as an Argentine thriller directed by Roman Vinoly Barreto.

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