The streamer has ordered the project to series from See-Saw Films, the company behind The King’s Speech and Top of the Lake. It will be directed by Dark River and The Selfish Giant director Clio Barnard and is written by Mrs Wilson writer Anna Symon.
The Essex Serpent follows newly widowed Cora, played by Knightley, who, having being released from an abusive marriage, relocates from Victorian London to the small village of Aldwinter in Essex, intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.
Set in 1893, the book was published by Serpent’s Tail, an imprint of Profile Books in 2016 and was named Book of the Year by the British Book Awards that year.
Knightley, Barnard and Symon will exec produce alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Andrea Cornwell will serve as producer.
The drama was commissioned by Apple out of the UK by Apple’s Heads of Worldwide Video, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and Creative Director for Europe Worldwide Video, Jay Hunt.
It is Apple TV+’s latest drama to emerge out of the UK following Slow Horses, also produced by See-Saw Films and starring Gary Oldman, and Suspicion, its remake of Israeli drama False Flag starring Uma Thurman from Keshet Productions.
Knightley is represented by United Agents, CAA, Narrative, Sloane Offer.