Joseph Fiennes attached to star in and EP a new take on a classic story


Atrium TV, the innovative drama “commissioning club”, unveiled its latest slate of dramas to club members in Cannes last night.

The four new, high-end scripted projects – all currently in advanced development – were pitched to representatives of Atrium’s membership base (including BT TV, Viaplay and Movistar+) by writers Robert Murphy (DCI Banks, Vera, Shetland) and John Cabrera (H+, The Homes, Diversion End); producers Claire Mundell (The Cry), Polly Leys (The Level, The Full Monty), Kate Norrish (Random, The Level), Ed Clarke (Swimming with Men, Locke) and Antoine Disle (Skal, Event Zero), plus actor Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale). Writer and producer Peter Horton (American Odyssey, Grey’s Anatomy, New Amsterdam) was also at the Club meeting to update on his project Silo, pitched to members earlier this year.

New Drama Slate

CYRANO, based on Edmond Rostand’s classic play Cyrano de Bergerac, is a six-part thrilling, heart-breaking, blood and guts love story set in 17thcentury France. Completely re-imagined by Tracy Ann Baines for a modern, sophisticated audience and planned to be bold, daring and cinematic in scale, it will star Emmy®-nominated Joseph Fiennes in the title role and he is also attached to executive produce. Cyrano tells of a brave and daring hero, crippled emotionally by his insecurities and a belief that he cannot be loved. He has long been in love with Roxane and in a bid to stop her marrying Vicomte Valvert he instigates a highly dubious plan to make Roxane fall in love with a living, breathing, idealised version of himself – a handsome young soldier named Christian. However, in doing so, he embarks on a dangerous course where his obsession threatens to consume him and destroy the one relationship he’s trying hard to protect. Cyrano will be produced by The Development Partnership, with Ed Clarke (Swimming with Men, Locke) and Robert Taylor executive producing.

Joseph Fiennes comments: “This is a timeless tale of unrequited love and of lives entwined in a dance of deceit and delusion. I am looking forward to getting to grips with the compelling and contradictory character of Cyrano and it has been a wonderful experience to pitch Tracy’s brilliant vision for him to Atrium TV and its members.”

THE BODY is an eight-part TV series based on the novella of the same name by Hanif Kureishi. Written and created by Robert Murphy (Inspector George Gently, Meadowlands) it tells the story of Adam Melville, an ordinary middle-aged man, living an ordinary life as a tax assessor, in a middling suburb of Sacramento, California, who grasps an extraordinary opportunity to transfer himself into a younger body. In his new, brutally handsome body Adam is plunged into a world of glamour, sex, power and untold wealth – but should he have been careful what he wished for? Produced by Synchronicity Films (The Cry, Not Another Happy Ending), this absorbing, high-concept drama will explore themes of consciousness, soul, race, gender, class, wealth and power, but ultimately The Body is a story about love, family and what it means to be human.

CLARA VINE is a high-end, eight-part espionage thriller adapted by writer Jane English (Harlots, Sugar Rush) from the international best-selling Clara Vine novels by Jane Thynne. British actress Clara Vine arrives in Berlin in 1933 on the brink of stardom, excited to be working at the famous Babelsberg Film Studios. Reveling in the attention she receives in this energetic city, she is welcomed into to the upper echelons of German society. Before long she is unwittingly drawn into the inner circle of the powerful wives of the Nazi elite including the ‘First Lady of the Third Reich’, Magda Goebbels. The discovery of a dangerous family secret changes everything and makes Clara look afresh at a city on the precipice of unimaginable change.

Recruited as a spy for British intelligence, she puts her acting skills to good use and soon finds herself at the centre of a complex web of intrigue, playing the most dangerous role of her life; further complicated when she embarks on a passionate affair with her spy handler. Clara Vine offers a unique female perspective on the Nazi regime. Both tense thriller and an intense love story it is set in exciting, shifting times that draw parallels to today. It was a period when extreme views were normalised, racism institutionally sanctioned, news faked, facts refuted and history re-invented. Clara Vine will be produced by Hillbilly Television’s Polly Leys and Kate Norrish, whose recent credits include The Level and the BAFTA award-winning Random.

THE MEXICAN WITCH HUNT is an intense supernatural thriller, created by Sylvain ‘Sly’ Raymond and written by John Cabrera (H+, The Homes, Diversion End), that follows an ongoing manhunt for Miguel Angel Rodriguez Esperanza, an illegal Mexican immigrant suspected of a killing spree in Arizona. Helped by his girlfriend, his adoptive son and a mysterious Native American, Miguel is intent on making it to Coronado National Park, close to the Mexican border, where he wishes to crucify Virginia, an innocent college girl that he thinks is a witch. He believes what he is doing is ‘God’s work’ but becomes the most wanted man in America, involving the FBI, a high-profile evangelist, a TV weather man and a number of U.S. Marshals conspiring against the American people while harboring witchcraft. With a powerful story that plays out both in the present time and the 17th century, this 10-part series features richly drawn characters fighting both good and evil – and the demons within themselves. The Mexican Witch Hunt will be produced by Antoine Disle and Mathias Bernard’s Rockzeline (Skinford, Game of Death, Skal), with writer John Cabrera as showrunner.

Richard Halliwell, CEO of Atrium comments: “We are delighted that this fantastic mix of writing, producing and acting talent could come to Cannes to present their visions for these projects to our members at this third Club meeting. From 17th century France and 1930s Germany, to present day America and a near future when we might live forever, these four projects are all rich with story and characters and each is immediately intriguing, providing new takes on universal themes. Our members demand standout programming for their customers and we are confidant that these new projects will each appeal across the numerous markets in which our members operate.”

Atrium TV also announce that the two titles from its slate launch at this year’s LA Screenings to be taken forward are SILO, written by Peter Horton (American Odyssey, New Amsterdam) and Raelle Tucker (True Blood, Jessica Jones), with Peter Horton and Michael Douglas producing; and THE LAST AMAZON, written by Rafe Judkins, produced by Gene Stein (Narcos, Hannibal, Alphas) and with Academy Award®, Golden Globe and Emmy® Award nominee Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) attached to executive produce. Silo, is a sexy, violent drama set in a futuristic San Francisco where, because of diminished resources, people live in Silos dividing the haves from the have-nots. Packed with strong, entertaining female characters, The Last Amazon focuses on the great Amazon Queens such as Antiope and Hippolyta, portraying their extraordinary lives, loves and major battles, notably, their campaign against the Ancient Greeks.

Atrium TV’s members are amongst the leading OTT and TelCos worldwide and now include BT TV (UK), Televisa (Latin America) Viaplay (Nordics), Orange (France), Movistar+ (Spain), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Iflix (Asia/MENA), Sky New Zealand, Antenna (Greece), NewFilm (Russia), BigFlix (India) and Yes TV (Israel).