Gugu Mbatha-Raw Set To Headline BBC Adaptation Of JP Delaney’s ‘The Girl Before’; HBO Max Tipped To Board 42-Produced Series

By Jake Kanter, Andreas Wiseman

Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Michael Wharley

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a hot new transatlantic project to start 2021: The Morning Show star Gugu Mbatha-Raw is set to be cast as the lead in a BBC adaptation of JP Delaney’s best-selling psychological thriller The Girl Before.

Deadline can reveal that 42, the UK production outfit behind Netflix’s The English Game and the Emmy-winning BBC/Netflix animation Watership Down, is behind the four-part BBC One series, which will shoot this year. The Girl Before originally was optioned for a feature by Universal Pictures in 2015, with Ron Howard attached to direct, but now looks set to make its screen debut on television in 2021

42 is in the advanced stages of bringing onboard a U.S. co-production partner, and sources said that HBO Max is the front-runner. The WarnerMedia streamer has made its presence felt in the UK co-production space recently, boarding series such as Russell T Davies’ upcoming Channel 4 AIDS crisis drama It’s a Sin. It has also acquired series including I Hate Suzie and Adult Material.

The Girl Before

Delaney himself is overseeing the adaptation of his 2016 novel, which has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Marissa Lestrade, a relative newcomer, is co-writing episodes after securing credits on shows including Fox’s Deep State and BBC medical drama Casualty. Emmy-nominated Killing Eve director Lisa Brühlmann will helm the series, while Rhonda Smith is the producer. ITV Studios is distributing.

The Girl Before follows Jane, a traumatized woman who falls in love with an extraordinary minimalist house, which remains under the spell of the architect who originally designed it. But when she discovers that another damaged woman died in the same One Folgate Street property three years earlier, she starts to wonder if her own story is just a rerun of the girl before.

British actress Mbatha-Raw will play Jane in what represents her latest eye-catching role. Following the success of The Morning Show, in which she played an ambitious breakfast-TV guest booker, she was cast in Apple TV+ series Surface, which comes from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. She is attached to Blood Ties, an Aaron Katz (Gemini)-directed drama based on a Nathan Heller New Yorker article. She can next be seen in Disney+’s Marvel series also Loki, which premieres in May, and feature Seacole. Mbatha-Raw also serves as an associate producer on The Girl Before.

42, which doubles as a management firm and has a first-look deal with MGM, is currently in post-production on movies including Night Teeth and Outside the Wire, and is due to go into production on Letitia Wright starrer Silent Twins this month. Clients include Michael Caine, Nicholas Hoult, Lynne Ramsay and Noel Clarke.

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