Are Bryant & May Heading For TV?
The Bryant & May books are about to be optioned by a major production company. Although the deal is under wraps at the moment, I can reveal that, following negotiations with several companies, the old codgers will get a fresh chance to be seen by TV networks as a possible series.
The process is complex; a format must be decided upon, a script written, casting proposed and long-term plans created. The idea for a series about the Peculiar Crimes Unit is not new, so some networks have seen it before, but personnel and platforms change constantly, and what was not wanted last year can suddenly become desirable. Last time around we all agreed that the script did not work, but I have higher hopes this time.
Also, the TV landscape is rapidly evolving; the possibility of streaming episodes online is a reality after ‘House of Cards’, and audiences are changing their viewing habits as internet viewing becomes increasingly popular. The series has to be shot in London, which puts it in a higher cost bracket, but that also makes it more saleable worldwide, and TV suits the books, which would be riskier as feature films because of their aged protagonists.
I remember working on many different incarnations of the ‘Thunderbirds’ live-action movie. At the start Kristen Scott-Thomas had been proposed as Lady Penelope, but after some seven years of development the film company took a disastrous route, sidelining the F.A.B pilots for an annoying teenager, and it killed the film.
Getting the tone of Bryant & May right will take nerve; TV has nothing quite like them, and if they were forced to conform to other TV crime shows their unusualness would be lost. There are relatively few networks in the market for such a series, so this time we’ll quickly know if the world is ready for Arthur Bryant and John May to make the jump. I hope they do and will keep you posted.
(Shown here is an earlier cover for ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ in which the artist forgot to add John May!)