BBC One’s upcoming drama series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell is getting bigger and it is going global. Feel Film, Farmoor and Cuba Pictures – the production division of leading literary and talent agency Curtis Brown – has unveiled a co-production deal with BBC America, Canada’s Bell Media (for their Space channel), Endemol Worldwide Distribution and investments from Screen Yorkshire and Quebec’s Cite Amerique. In addition it has been announced that the order for the series has been increased to seven episodes, up from the six announced by BBC One back in November 2012.
Per the terms of this co-production agreement, BBC America will hold the exclusive broadcast rights to the series in the United States, where it will air as part of the network’s Supernatural Saturday block; while Bell Media’s Space channel will be the exclusive broadcaster of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell in Canada. Endemol Worldwide Distribution will handle global sales outside of the UK, US and Canada.
Based on the bestselling novel by Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell is set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England where magic once existed and is about to return. The series was adapated for television by Peter Harness (who is writing all 7 episodes), with Toby Haynes attached to direct. The executive producers are Matthew Read, Nick Marston, Justin Thomson-Glover, Patrick Irwin, Tally Garner and Dixie Linder. Toby Haynes is attached to direct. The series is currently in pre-production and will be filmed in Yorkshire and Canada this Summer.
Speaking of the deal, Nick Marston, CEO of Cuba Pictures, said: “The production has now developed into a seven part series and we are delighted that scriptwriter Peter Harness is well on the way to completing all seven hours. He has just delivered episode five and, with Toby Haynes on board to direct, we are in an excellent position to begin pre-production later this month, with production due to start filming in late summer.”
Cathy Payne, Chief Executive of Endemol Worldwide Distribution, commented: “We are delighted to be working on such a strong project. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a fantastic novel with a huge cult following and we really believe that the producers and the talented team that they have assembled have created an extraordinary and fantastical world that will really appeal to our buyers, It’s a hugely exciting prospect for Endemol.”
Richard De Croce, Senior Vice-President of Programming for BBC America, said: “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is one of our next big series’ for our Supernatural Saturday block, as Susanna Clarke’s stories transcend borders and are perfect for our US audience. It’s another high end drama for BBC America and we’re proud to be working with Cuba Pictures and BBC One.”
While Catherine MacLeod, Vice-President of Specialty Channels for Bell Media, added: “We’re delighted to be part of this amazing project. The fact that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell will be filming in Canada is an added bonus, and we look forward to bringing this new series to our Space viewers.”