BBC details “Undercover” and “Thirteen” plus a new Douglas Adams adaptation
Earlier today at TCA, BBC AMERICA detailed two co-productions. The first was Undercover, a gripping political thriller from acclaimed writer Peter Moffat (Silk, Criminal Justice) starring Sophie Okonedo (Criminal Justice) and Adrian Lester (Hustle), and the second called Thirteen, a compelling contemporary mystery from rising star Marnie Dickens. Both new series will air on BBC AMERICA in 2016.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles, Sarah Barnett, President and General Manager, BBC AMERICA, also announced the first tranche of an extensive original scripted development slate including:
Dirk Gently, an adaptation of Douglas Adams’ (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) wildly successful comic novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, is an anthology series set in the unexpected world of the hyper, absurd, ridiculous Dirk Gently. With an utterly fresh, comically self-aware tone, this series is equally sincere in its danger, humor, violence and drama. Penned by Max Landis – the mind behind cult classic Chronicle – this series is produced by IDW, Circle of Confusion and Ideate for BBC AMERICA.
An untitled project from filmmaker Sebastian Silva. Using unconventional storytelling – including real people – Silva explores humorous, absurd and uncomfortably raw stories of 21st century dating in our impulsive era of swiping and liking. Sebastian Silva is the writer/director of 2015 Sundance and Berlinale selection Nasty Baby starring Kristen Wiig and Golden Globe-nominated The Maid. A24 is attached to produce.
Moths, follows a young American woman whose reckless quest for thrill and adventure takes her to the epicenter of Tokyo’s Shibuya sub-culture scene. After an unthinkable crime occurs, she finds herself face-to-face with an unfamiliar, ancient and intractable world. Tony Wood and Cineflix are attached to produce.
The Greater Good from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dana Shapiro (Murderball) is the provocative, fictionalized story of Cora Jones, lone survivor of the Jonestown massacre where 918 of her fellow cult members died. She was saved, she believes, to rid the world of false prophets but, as her own fame as an atheist preacher grows, she begins to morph into the very thing she’s been railing against. This compelling drama about faith, family, hubris, paranoia and healing is also a cautionary tale about the rise and fall of an American leader. It is produced by Lakeshore Entertainment (Underworld).
An untitled comic-noir thriller from Anders August set in a 1950s resort follows the social climbing of a disarming young woman who turns out to be a dangerous sociopath. Anders August wrote the Oscar-nominated film The Pig and was executive producer of Follow the Money which premiered at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. Michael London (The Illusionist, Sideways) is attached to produce.
Another untitled project, this one from Anna Winger was also announced. A family drama, an amped up adventure, and a celebration of the city of Berlin today, this journey is a darkly humorous exploration of colliding worlds, the unifying bonds of loss, and the dangerous pursuit of answers in a utopian city. Anna Winger is the creator of international series, Deutschland ’83.
Barnett, commented: “The scripted TV explosion in recent years has affirmed over and over that strong visionaries are the heart of creative and commercial success. At BBC AMERICA we’re doubling down on extraordinary creator-led projects.”
The two new co-productions, Undercover and Thirteen, will join BBC AMERICA’s slate of original scripted shows that includes the iconic series Doctor Who (returns September 19); Orphan Black (returns for a fourth season in 2016); The Last Kingdom (premieres October 10) and Luther (fourth installment premieres winter 2015).
“The BBC is a creative powerhouse and we’re delighted to partner with them on these provocative, contemporary stories,” said Barnett. “Peter Moffat is one of the UK’s most vibrant and acclaimed screenwriters, while new talent Marnie Dickens brings a singular voice and perspective to her first original series. We can’t wait to launch these shows on the network.”
Undercover, a six part limited series, features lead character Maya (Okonedo) who is about to become the first black woman to hold the highest ranking public prosecutor role in England.
Just as her life comes under intense public scrutiny she discovers her husband Nick (Lester), and the father of her children, has been lying to her for years. Is he concealing an affair, or is it something altogether more sinister? If she digs up his real past will she jeopardize her own future? What price do you pay for uncovering lies? And who wants her in the top job, and why?
Peter Moffat says: “I’m relishing the prospect of returning to the contemporary British political landscape to look at where we stand and how we got here. Undercover is a thriller about identity, trust and the struggle to lead a morally principled personal and professional life, while working up close with the police, press, politicians and criminals who have so corrupted and damaged public life over the last 20 years.”
Undercover is executive produced by Hilary Salmon, Head of BBC Drama Production England, for BBC ONE and BBC AMERICA. She previously worked with Moffat on his hit legal series Silk and Bafta-winning Criminal Justice.
Thirteen is a new original five part mystery thriller which follows Ivy Moxham (Jodie Comer) on the day she escapes from the cellar that has been her prison for the last 13 years. It’s the day she’ll return to her home, to her family, to her life. It’s the day that is only the beginning.
Thirteen is an emotional rollercoaster that explores how to pick up the threads of a life half-lived and how to survive as a family under the greatest pressure: how to feel again, chance love again. It is a psychological drama about who to trust when you can’t even trust yourself.
Asked about her first original series commission, Marnie Dickens says: “I’ve always been fascinated by the resilience of the human spirit in even the most extreme situations and am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this story to life on the BBC and BBC AMERICA.”
Thirteen is produced by BBC In-House Drama Production England and Executive Produced by Elizabeth Kilgarrif for BBC THREE and BBC AMERICA.