Mammoth Screen – the indie behind such shows as BBC One’s Poldark and ITV’s Victoria – has optioned the film and television rights to Henry Hemming’s upcoming non-fiction book M, which tells the true story of former MI5 Director of Intelligence Maxwell Knight, TVWise has learned.
Set to be published by Preface in May 2017 under the title M: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster, the book tells the thrilling story of Knight, a spymaster who did more than any other to break-up British fascism during the Second World War. Known to his agents and colleagues as ‘M’, Knight would later be one of the inspirations for the ‘M’ character in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
The indie’s Managing Director Damien Timmer pre-empted the rights from Gemma Hirst of Gemma Hirst Associates on behalf of Jonathan Conway of Jonathan Conway Literary Agency. Mammoth Screen is developing this primarily for television, with a view to producing a multi-part drama that could run up to three seasons. Bridge Of Spies scribe Matt Charman is attached as the lead writer for the adaptation.
“This was one of those rare manuscripts which gave me goosebumps as I was reading it”, Timmer said in a statement. “An utterly immersive and riveting read, Maxwell Knight is a genuinely fascinating character, and his journey through some of the most turbulent years of the 20th century constantly astounded me. It’s a real passion project for Matt Charman and Mammoth and we look forward to starting on it!’
“I raced through Henry Hemming’s book, constantly having to remind myself that it wasn’t a work of fiction”, added Matt Charman. “It really has everything you’d want from a great espionage story: incredible agents risking their lives; the highest possible stakes, with the safety of the world hanging in the balance; and at its heart a complicated, mercurial spymaster spinning an ever more intricate web.”