EXCLUSIVE: Former BBC documentary makers Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson are working on their next drama projects together as they prepare to launch The Salisbury Poisonings — the BBC’s major retelling of the 2018 Novichok poisonings on British soil.
Lawn and Patterson spent more than a year living in Salisbury, intensively researching the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal by Russian operatives, and they told Deadline that they intend to apply similar journalistic rigor to their future scripted work, which includes a “dream project” on the IRA.
Titled Dirty War, the script was in development with Patrick Melrose producer Two Cities Television when Deadline spoke to Lawn and Patterson earlier this year. Set in 1972, it centers on the British government and Royal Ulster Constabulary’s military intelligence war against the Irish Republican Army paramilitary group. “It’s based purely on testimony of people involved, and it will be a dream project for us if it gets greenlit,” Lawn said.
As well as Dirty War, the pair are writing on The Undeclared War, a Playground Entertainment cyber warfare drama being developed for Channel 4 by Wolf Hall and The State director Peter Kosminsky. The 10-part series tells the story of the undeclared confrontation between key state players in a present-day Cold War. It is set for 2021.
Lawn said it was Kosminsky who encouraged him and Patterson to become dramatists after years in the factual arena. “I did some journalistic work for Peter Kosminsky and it was really Peter who ushered us into this world. He read our first spec script. He was incredibly supportive and always has been and helped open some doors for us,” Lawn explained.
The writers are also set to direct and help with the writing on Chasing Agent Freegard, a feature about a man who masqueraded as an MI5 agent to escape the IRA. Starring McMafia and War & Peace actor James Norton as Hendy-Freegard, the film is in the works at Rabbit Track Pictures, The Development Partnership and Great Point Media. It will be Lawn and Patterson’s directorial debut in the scripted space.
Three-part series The Salisbury Poisonings premieres on BBC One on June 14. It is made by Fremantle-backed Dancing Ledge Productions and is yet to find a home in the U.S.