EXCLUSIVE: BBC Two is getting into business with Heyday Films, the producers behind Warner Bros. Harry Potter feature film series. BBC insiders tell me that BBC Two Controller Janice Hadlow and the BBC’s Head of Drama Ben Stephenson have commissioned a 90 minute film titled The Thirteenth Tale, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Diane Setterfield.
Published in 2006, The Thirteenth Tale is a story about the residents of Angelfield House. Ageing novelist Vida Winter enlists a young writer to finally tell the story of her life – including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager. The project has been described to me as a “chilling ghost story which examines family tragedy.” I hear that the adaptation was penned by Christopher Hampton, who previously adapted Doris Lessing’s novel Two Mothers and Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement. Word is that The Thirteenth Tale is being eyed as a key part of BBC Two’s 2013 Christmas line up, with casting on the film currently underway. Heyday Films is producing the 90 minute one-off, with David Heyman (best known for his work on Warner Bros. Harry Potter feature film series), Norma Heyman and Rosie Alison serving as producers. Inside Men helmer James Kent is attached to direct.
It’s been a long road for an adaptation for The Thirteenth Tale. Heyday Films optioned the rights to the novel back in 2007 and initially envisioned the project as a major feature film. The intention had been to produce alongside BBC Films for a wide release. Obviously, that did not occur and I’m told that the project seemed liked a perfect one-off for the BBC and that after seeing the script both Janice Hadlow and Ben Stephenson were “keen” to green-light the project.