Simon Beaufoy and Tony Garnett among team behind spy series ripped from the headlines.
Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy is among the writing team on a new TV drama series about the real-life UK police spies who infiltrated British activist groups and the women with whom they had long-term relationships.
Currently in development, Undercovers (4 x 1hr) is being written by Beaufoy, McLibel and The Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong and activist-turned-writer Alice Nutter (The Street).
Armstrong’s London-based doc specialist Spanner Films produces and is raising money for the series through crowdfunding.
Tony Garnett, acclaimed veteran producer of film and TV dramas including Kes and Cathy Come Home, will come out of retirement to act as executive producer alongside Passion Pictures’ John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man, One Day in September).
Storylines on Undercovers include that of activist Helen Steel who discovered, after a two-decade-long search, that her missing partner was in fact a police spy who was leading a double life.
Steel went on to become one of two defendants in the infamous McLibel case in the 90’s, the longest-running court case in UK history.
No broadcaster, director or cast have been attached as yet.
Beaufoy, whose writing credits also include features The Full Monty and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, commented: “This true story of love, politics and betrayal has more drama, suspense and moral complexity than anything we writers can ever dream up”.
Battsek added: “TV shows like Breaking Bad, Borgen and House of Cards are combining impeccable writing, fabulous casting and innovative finance and distribution models to herald a new golden age of TV drama. Undercovers dreams of joining this list and has an ace up its sleeve – our story is true. ”
Garnett said: “The arbitrary power of the police seems free of all constraint. They trample on ancient, hard won liberties. Maybe when we see their actions brought to life on screen we will collectively be galvanised to assert our rights over them.”