EXCLUSIVE: The UK’s Origin Pictures is working across an exciting slate of film and TV projects including a The Wire-style crime-drama set in Manchester from Matt Greenhalgh and an adaptation of recently optioned PD James novel Death Comes to Pemberley.
UK film and TV outfit Origin Pictures is working across an exciting slate of TV projects backed by the BBC, including serials in development from Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy) and Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls) as well as a series charting the birth of chocolate giant Cadbury from James Graham (Prisoners’ Wives).
Greenhalgh has delivered the first episode of a proposed four-part crime-drama Silencers to commissioners at BBC2. Origin described the project as a “tense police thriller with shades of Training Day and The Wire, about a young police officer who is part of a unit that tackles gang and gun crime in Moss Side, Manchester.”
Towhidi, whose feature script Testament of Youth placed sixth on the Brit List, is writing a three-part adaptation of PD James’ most recent novel Death Comes to Pemberley – recently optioned by Origin – a murder mystery set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Playwright/screenwriter James Graham (Prisoners’ Wives) is writing Chocolate Wars, an adaptation of Deborah Cadbury’s acclaimed non-fiction book about the history of chocolate.
The concept is being written as a returnable series charting the birth of the UK giant through the story of two young brothers who struggle to turn a near bankrupt Victorian chocolate works into a brand giant – a task made all the harder by their own idealism as Quakers. Fremantle is also on board the development.
London-based Origin, which has a first look TV distribution deal with Fremantle, has also acquired TV rights to Daphne Du Maurier’s popular 19th century love story Jamaica Inn.
Origin chief David Thompson, the former head of BBC Films, told Screen: “Death Comes to Pemberley is a new venture for us and new territory for TV. No one has done a crime show set in Austen’s world before. We secured the rights to the book against stiff competition but Juliette Towhidi is a great combination with the material. There was a similar battle for Chocolate Wars which is another delicious tale for the Sunday night slot and is a story of vision and enterprise. Silencers is a very different flavour. It is dangerous, vibrant and very unlike current crime shows thanks to the fantastic research done by Matt.”
Origin head of development and executive producer Ed Rubin added: “It’s exciting to be working with such a terrific array of talent and on a really diverse range of pieces. More than ever it feels like there is real fluidity in writers and directors moving between film and television, which is certainly indicative of Origin’s slate.”
The company is also across a number of anticipated UK features, including BBC Films and BFI-backed drama X + Y, also written by James Graham, which will be directed by BAFTA-winning director Morgan Matthews (The Fallen).
Inspired by Matthews’ BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, X + Y is a rites of passage drama about a teenage prodigy’s journey to the Mathematics Olympiad, and his quest to find a formula for love. Mathews’ Minnow Films will co-produce. Casting is underway.
Thompson said of X + Y: “This is one of our front runners on the film slate. This is what we are gearing up to finance. The film has shades of Billy Elliot, which I was involved in commissioning. It is a very uplifting and affirmative love story about two hyper-clever and extraordinary teenagers from very different worlds.”
Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk, William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms and Ronan Bennett’s Granny Made Me an Anarchist are also on Origin’s feature slate and have all featured on the Brit List.
Origin dramas Hidden and Crimson Petal and The White aired on BBC last year. The company’s feature credits include The Awakening and The First Grader.