Are Bryant & May Heading For TV?

Bryant and May


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!)

23 comments on “Are Bryant & May Heading For TV?”

  1. Simon says:

    I do hope they make it to television. It would make a very nice offset to the, may I say very good, Nordic crime series.

  2. Andrew Green says:

    Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Bryant and May ? or will whomever gets the show will change them for 2 younger models because the 18-49 demo is the be all especially if US sales are part of the option …

  3. Joel Kosminsky says:

    Not convinced that modern actors would be allowed to match (owww) the book’s characters, let alone each reader having their own images of the duo. Will portrayals of older gents mutate for the demands of yoofish audiences and overseas sales, despite the undeniable attractions of London? Might work better as motion capture, sort-of ‘solarised’ into the style of the book covers? Or is it me, like most other wannabe-writers, just getting in my edits first?

  4. Ralph Williams says:

    I thought it was traditional these days that if the story is set in London it has to be filmed in Prague or Cardiff?

  5. Dan Terrell says:

    That big smile up on the tree limb is not a Wonderland cat looking down at you, but me self.

  6. John says:

    If this should miraculously come to pass, I would dare to become a regular attender of Mass for it would prove to me at least that there is indeed a God in Heaven. Let us pray!

  7. RobertR says:

    Wonderful news – think all your readers will be with you in anticipation every step of the way. Hopefully the recent success of older characters in ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ is proving to TV execs that youth is not the only TV demographic to be chased.

  8. agatha hamilton says:

    Excellent! Do hope this happens, can see David Bradley as Bryant.

  9. Mike Cane says:

    Good luck. To an outsider, it looks like British TV does very few series badly. OK… so maybe we just see the best of them here in America. Anyway, good luck!!

  10. Pauline McGee says:

    If it gets to casting I would like to think David Bradley for Byrant and Matin Shaw for May would be a good fit for the roles and would love to see it.

  11. m says:

    I’m so excited! If they end up on tv I wonder if any of the characters would match the images in my head.

  12. Wayne says:

    Wish you all the best with getting it out there. These stories have to be better than the current crop on TV.

    ‘Happy Valley’ Now that’s been quite a shocker! And although it’s a grim watch its somehow compelling.

    We need something as good as B&M on TV.

  13. Jo W says:

    Good luck with the tv companies,Admin. I only hope that the stories won’t be mucked about with too much. I have a feeling that not only will B& M be changed for younger models,but that the London setting will also be moved. They did that with the excellent Alan Hunter books,set in East Anglia. The tv version put them in the North East. Why?

  14. Wayne Mook says:

    London is a good selling point, with cosy crime (a terrible label I know.) older detectives are fine, it the surrounding cast where the damage can be done. Still lets hope.


  15. Kendall Spooner says:

    just re-reading a few in the series this week and I was wondering why this had not happened sooner. The series is brilliant and a natural for visual storytelling. A tv or film version always makes a few departures, but it can work with good writers. I am very hopeful.

  16. Alan Morgan says:

    Gambon for Bryant. Whom do we bombard with sweets to convince (other than Gambon himself)? If they say no then we still throw sweets just that they stay in the jar.

  17. RobertR says:

    Completely insane casting – weirdly I could believe Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield as B&M possibly as a result of watching them in the ‘Story of the Twos’. Shoot me down …
    While having read recent interviews with Michael Gambon about his “issues” with memorising parts – I wonder if he’d want such a textual dense role as Arthur?

  18. Rumsy4 says:

    This is great news! John Noble would make the perfect Arthur Bryant! Anyone who has seen Fringe and his amazing performance Walter Bishop will know why. He’s Australian, but I’m sure he can work the accent. Hope the series will be available in the US–it’s hard enough having to wait longer for the books to be released here.

  19. Rumsy4 says:

    Oh and I know he looks nothing like John May, but Ciaran Hinds would be great for that part! Okay–John Noble and Ciaran Hinds are my official fantasy cast for B&M.

  20. andrea yang says:

    Really exciting news! Hope it happens and we can eventually see the shows in the US. I will keep watching your blog for more revelations! Loved you latest Bleeding Heart B&M.

  21. Reuben says:

    This being TV I’d imagine David Janson is first choice to play Bryant. -shudder-

  22. jan says:

    don’t forget i volunteered myself last time as a location scout!!!! hope it works out for u

  23. I was thrilled to read there may be a possibility of Bryant and May on the telly. I have images of all the main characters in my mind and except for Meera* (Mina Anwar) they do not resemble any actor I am familiar with. The gentle humour, original puzzling plots and likeable eccentric characters would make an excellent tv series. I am sure the London Tourist Office would be grateful for the boost in visitor numbers due to the interesting historic London settings – after discovering The Water Room I booked myself on the Lost Rivers of London walking tour.

    *Excuse my spelling of Meera but I only ever listen to the Bryant and May books on Audible so I am not sure how to spell her name. BTW I love Tim Goodman’s vocal interpretation of all the characters and prefer to listen than to read so I’ve not yet had the pleasure of The Bleeding Heart.

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