The two companies struck the deals for the period thriller with The Media Pioneers, a UK-China media group run by Managing Director Maggie Liang. It will air on the digital platforms of both firms.
Produced by Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker and starring Tom Hardy, Taboo aired on BBC One in the UK and FX in the US in 2017. Both broadcasters revealed in March 2017 that they were working on a second season of the show while Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, who created the series with Hardy and his dad Chips Hardy, told Deadline last year that he had plans for three seasons.
Set in 1814, the first season follows James Keziah Delaney (Hardy), a man who has been to the ends of the earth and comes back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself. But his father’s legacy is a poisoned chalice, and with enemies lurking in every dark corner, James must navigate increasingly complex territories to avoid his own death sentence. Encircled by conspiracy, murder and betrayal, a dark family mystery unfolds in a combustible tale of love and treachery.
The cast includes Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, Stephen Graham, Michael Kelly, Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Tom Hollander, Jason Watkins, Franka Potente, Jefferson Hall, Ed Hogg, Leo Bill, Christopher Fairbank, Richard Dixon, Mark Gatiss, Nicholas Woodeson and Lucian Msamati, along with newcomer Robert Parker.
Taboo is a reteam for Hardy with his Locke director and screenwriter Knight, and his Child 44 producer Ridley Scott. Hardy has also appeared on Knight’s hit BBC Two gangster series Peaky Blinders, turning up from time to time as Alfie Solomons.
The Media Pioneers’ Liang said it was “thrilled” to be working with Alibaba and Youku. “As for Taboo, it was a hugely successful series in the UK which we are excited to bring to Chinese audiences, and look forward to it having the same reception there.”