First published in 1997, the book follows a young boy who, after the sudden death of his parents, is sent off to live with an eclectic band of oldies at his aunt’s house. Once there, he realizes there is more to the OAPs than meets the eye, discovering they are a gang of convicted criminals-turned-Robin Hoods who use their heist skills to battle social injustice.
Mangan is best known for his performances in BAFTA-winning sitcom Green Wing and U.S.-UK show Episodes alongside Matt LeBlanc. More recently, he reprised his role in the second series of Abi Morgan’s hit BBC drama The Split. On the writing side, Mangan was the co-scribe of Channel 4 series Hang Ups.
The book option deal was struck between UK producers Bird Flight Films and author Alan Temperley, who is represented by Lindsey Fraser and Fraser Ross Associates. Lizzie Brown and Emily Precious will produce the project for Bird Flight.
Harry And The Wrinklies was shortlisted for Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year in 1997, and the Hachette Jeunesse edition (French translation) won the Prix Chronos in 2001. It was previously turned into a TV series which ran on ITV between 2000 and 2002. Mangan also voiced the original audiobook recording of the novel.
“I watch a LOT of family films with my children and I know which ones make each of my kids laugh and which ones I can watch on a loop without wanting to throw the TV out of the window,” Mangan said. “The best are smart, funny and inspiring no matter what age you are and Harry And The Wrinklies is the epitome of this. It has such a wonderful sense of mischief and anarchy and is the perfect jumping off point for an adventure caper that will make the whole family laugh.”
“This was one of my favourite books as a child and I have been chasing the option for years. We are thrilled and honoured that Alan has trusted us with his much-loved novel,” said producer Precious.
“Stephen’s vision for the film is everything we could ever have hoped for – a fast and funny romp that inspires kids, empowers grandparents and entertains the whole family. This is the kind of joyous escapism that the world will be crying out for when the cinemas open again,” added producer Brown.
“I am delighted to have been approached by the very positive, get-up-and-go Bird Flight Films who wish to make a movie of Harry And The Wrinklies. Excellent news also that Stephen Mangan is writing the screenplay,” commented author Alan Temperley. “He read the original audiobook with a great sense of style and fun. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and I can’t think of anyone better to develop Harry for the big screen.”
Bird Flight Films’ recent work includes Carmilla, the UK gothic feature that screened in Edinburgh last year and would have hit cinemas in April, were it not for the coronavirus outbreak shutting down all theaters. The company is using the lockdown to actively develop its slate, which includes a romantic dramedy from Fisherman’s Friends director Chris Foggin, a TV Adaptation of award-winning play Mancoin, and an interactive media project in development with the BFI.