The US premium television network, Showtime, is developing a new fantasy drama series based on Mervyn Peake’s epic Gormenghast novels.
In charge of the project will be Toby Whithouse and Neil Gaiman, both well known to Doctor Who watchers. Whithouse wrote School Reunion for Series 2 of the revived series, plus later episodes including Vampires of Venice, A Town Called Mercy, and The Lie of the Land. He also created and wrote 5 seasons of Being Human. Gaiman is of course a major figure in literary fantasy, with recent TV adaptations including American Gods and Good Omens. For Doctor Who, he wrote the acclaimed The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver.
Whithouse and Gaiman will be joined at the helm by the Oscar-winning Akiva Goldsman, who is a screenwriter, director, and producer. Goldman’s work includes the screenplay for A Beautiful Mind, I, Robot, I Am Legend, and The Da Vinci Code. He is also an executive producer and writer on the forthcoming Star Trek: Picard.
Peake’s Gormenghast series follows the political scheming of various lords and their retainers who live in the city sized Gormenghast Castle. The series comprises 3 principal novels: Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950), and Titus Alone (1959). The novels regularly feature in the top 100 lists of the greatest fantasies ever written and have been translated into more than 20 languages.
This will not be the first attempt at a TV production. In 2000, the BBC and WGBH Boston produced a gong-harvesting 4-episode adaptation of Titus Groan and Gormenghast with a cast including Sir Ian Richardson, Jonathan Reece Meyers, Celia Imrie, Christopher Lee, Neve (Madame Vastra) McIntosh, Stephen Fry, and Steve Pemberton. The production was lavish, taking 5 years to produce and requiring over 120 sets. Gaiman is confident that they will be able to top even this:
‘The great thing now is that we can make it and actually show it and take you there. We are now in a world where you can put the impossible on screen and with Gormenghast, you’re not just dealing with a castle the size of a city but dealing with these incredibly glorious and memorable people.’
The series is about to go into production, so it’s still likely a couple of years away from our screens.