EXCLUSIVE: The King’s Speech, Top of the Lake producer joins Cohen Media Group on adaptation of Second World War spy story Double Cross.

The King’s Speech and Top of the Lake producer See-Saw Films has joined US-based distributor Cohen Media Group (CMG) to co-develop an international TV series based on Ben Macintyre’s bestselling book Double Cross, about the double agents who kept D-Day a secret from Hitler.

Double Cross tells the true story of the eccentric and brilliant group of spies who were vital to the success of the Normandy landings in June 1944. The daring deception saved thousands of allied soldiers and helped turn the tide of the war.

The project marks CMG’s first foray into TV drama.

Still at treatment stage, the two companies will attach a writer soon, with Macintyre on board as a consultant.

Shoot dates and locations are yet to be determined but both groups told ScreenDaily they see the project as a “prestige, large budget, international drama series.” Macintyre’s account moves largely between London and Lisbon.

The development agreement was negotiated by CMG chairman and CEO Charles S Cohen, CMG president Daniel Battsek, See-Saw head of television Jamie Laurenson, See-Saw business affairs head Alice Clough and Lisbeth Savill, partner in O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

New angle

Cohen, which recently picked up Cedric Klapisch’s Chinese Puzzle starring Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris, previously distributed See-Saw’s Oranges and Sunshine and is now looking to ramp up its TV and feature production output.

Battsek, former president of National Geographic Films and Miramax executive, told Screen that the project will explore an under-served aspect of the war.

“This is a period of history which is extremely popular and yet this angle hasn’t been done before,” he said.

“We have seen Band of Brothers, The Pacific and other TV series and features about the front-line but this is really about the strategy and the characters that were so significant for this period in a different way.”

International co-pro

Laurenson, the former BBC Films executive who joined See-Saw in 2012 to spearhead its new TV division, told Screen: “One of the attractions about this material is that it offers scope for proper international co-production. It has a range of characters from throughout the UK, Europe and the US, potentially.”

UK and Australia-based outfit See-Saw recently received eight Emmy nominations for their Jane Campion-directed drama Top of the Lake.

Author and journalist Macintyre said: “It’s thrilling to see these two prestigious companies collaborate to bring my work to both the big and small screen. This has been a life-long dream for me.”

Charles S. Cohen added: “The recent success of high quality period drama on television has proven that there is an appetite and an audience for this type of programming. This, coupled with our interest in creating international film and television programs, naturally led us to these acclaimed and compelling books by Ben Macintyre.”

Operation Mincemeat

Macintyre’s Operation Mincemeat is also currently in development with CMG as a feature.

In April, the New York-based company also announcement development of another historical bestseller, The Inventor and the Tycoon, Edward Ball’s National Book Award-winning account of the relationship between film pioneer Edward Muybridge and industrialist and politician Leland Stanford.

Among See-Saw’s feature slate are buzzed about titles Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman, and Life, about US photographer Dennis Stock.

See-Saw drama Tracks, starring Mia Wasikowska, was recently announced for Venice and Toronto.