Deadline understands that the premium broadcaster has handed the adaptation, which is a co-production between American Gods producer Fremantle and the ViacomCBS-owned network, a script to series commitment and has opened a writers’ room.
This comes after we revealed last year that the drama was being developed by showrunner Whithouse alongside exec producers Gaiman, Goldsman, Dante Di Loreto, Oliver Jones, Barry Spikings (The Deer Hunter) and David A. Stern (Howards End).
It marks the first television adaptation of the books since the BBC adapted the first two books – Titus Groan and Gormenghast – as a four-part series in 2000 with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christopher Lee starring.
The books follow the inhabitants of Castle Gormenghast, a sprawling, decaying, gothic-like structure with a raft of characters including Titus, the heir to the throne of the House of Groan, scheming kitchen boy Steerpike and twin sisters Cora and Clarice.
Showtime was able to board the adaptation – the latest big-budget fantasy drama to be in the works – as it falls outside of Gaiman’s overall deal with Amazon. He told Deadline that he wanted to “take it to wherever will be the best home for it”.
He added, “The joy of trying to describe Gormenghast to people is one where words will fail you and that’s why there have been people who wanted to film Gormenghast ever since Peake wrote the first book. The BBC once tried but they were all making it in times when depicting the impossible on the screen was too difficult. The great thing now is that we can make it and actually show it and take you there. We are now in a world where you can put the impossible on screen and with Gormenghast, you’re not just dealing with a castle the size of a city but dealing with these incredibly glorious and memorable people.”
Whithouse added that he and his colleagues were working out how much of each book to put in each season. “The way that television just absolutely devours narrative means that it could be that we get [the first two] books into season one or much like American Gods, where season one ends halfway through the book.”