EXCLUSIVE: Charles Sturridge writing Lassie Leaves Home.


Cinema’s best loved dog Lassie is on the way back to the screen. Speaking in Dinard this week, British writer-director Charles Sturridge (who helmed the 2005 version of Lassie) has confirmed that he has scripted a new Lassie project, Lassie Leaves Home.

Sturridge has created what he calls “a Second World War evacuee story” in which Joe, Lassie’s owner, is separated from the dog and sent to Canada.

“The dog follows him (Joe) to Canada. Then, the two of them have an epic journey across Canada, ending in the Arctic, along the way becoming involved with a fugitive American Indian,” Sturridge explained. “It’s a complicated, picaresque story.”

Classic Media, the co-producers of the Lassie film, commissioned the screenplay. The project will be put together as a Canadian production and is likely to surface first on TV.

“My idea basically was that you would do a feature-length opener. Then, if you wanted to, you could effectively create a series of stories about the dog moving down to America.”

Sturridge suggested that there would be a role in the new film for Hey Hey II, a descendant of the original Lassie and the dog that featured in his earlier movie.

“There will be jobs for several Hey Heys,” he commented.

Classic Media is set to partner with Canadian outfit Breakthrough on the new movie. However, Sturridge himself is unlikely to direct the new Lassie vehicle.

His next project as writer-director could well be Bomber, an adaptation of Len Deighton’s novel about 24 hours of the Allied bombing campaign of Germany. This is being made for producers Roger Randall-Cutler and Rob Cheek of the First Film Company.

Bomber will be done for the BBC and is set to be 2 x 90 minutes. 

“One of the pleasures of the story is that it is a very wide canvas. That is the point of it. It takes in a very compact time frame, over the course of a day…actually, it covers a huge amount of territory, set half in Germany and half in the UK,” Sturridge said.

Sturridge’s latest film, Daphne Du Maurier adaptation The Scapegoat (produced by Sarah Beardsall and Dominic Minghella of Island Pictures) is screening in Dinard and will be in competition at the Chicago Film Festival. The film, which was broadcast recently by ITV, is sold by Content Film.