The BBC Studios-backed firm has optioned The 39 Steps-esque novel, which was originally published in 1994 but was republished by Faber in 2015 after it became one of the most requested out of print titles at UK bookstores. His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has described it as one of his favorite thrillers.
It tells the story of an Oxford Professor, who receives an envelope containing nothing but two cigarette papers, which begins a chain of events that will change the course of history. Set just after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the story follows Johnny Porter’s attempt to infiltrate the most secret research facility in Russia – a laboratory buried deep underground, a place nobody has ever left alive. Porter’s quest takes him over the Arctic Ocean and into deepest Siberia – constantly switching identities as he goes.
Moonage Pictures was set up by veteran Tiger Aspect exec Will Gould, former BBC Drama Commissioner Matthew Read and Tiger Drama’s Frith Tiplady.It recently produced Sean Bean and Malachi Kirby-fronted action drama Curfew, for Sky One, which is a co-pro with Tiger Aspect and is currently making Intergalactic, an action-packed sci-fi drama, set in the 23rd Century and written by Prisoners’ Wives and Secret Diary of a Call Girl writer Julie Gearey.
Read said, “Lionel Davidson’s sensational novel has been at the top of my wish-list to adapt for a very long time. It has all the flair of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, combined with the awe of The Revenant, and in Johnny Porter it has that same elemental will to survive at its core. It’s a breath-taking adventure, and it demands the time and the ambition that only long form TV today can offer.”