Yesterday, I learned from SF Signal that BBC America is co-producing for a new drama series, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It is based on the bestselling alternate history novel by Susanna Clarke and will be adapted by Peter Harness (Wallander, Is Anybody There?). BBC America describes the story as being set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England where magic once existed and is about to return. Here is the description of the book from Amazon to give you a better idea of what to expect:
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.The series will premiere in 2014 as part of BBC America's Supernatural Saturday programming block and is being produced by Cuba Pictures (Boy A, Broken) for the BBC and co-produced by BBC America, in association with Feel Film, Bell Media’s Space, Far Moor and Screen Yorkshire. It is distributed by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.
Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Wallander) directs, Nick Hirschkorn (Feel Films, Five Children and It) will produce with Greg Dummett, on behalf of Quebec’s Cite Amerique. Executive producers are: Nick Marston, Tally Garner and Dixie Linder for Cuba Pictures, Endemol Worldwide Distribution and Thomson-Glover and Patrick Irwin for Far Moor. Matthew Read is the executive producer for the BBC.
Nick Marston CEO of Cuba Pictures says: “The production has now developed into a seven part series and we are delighted that Peter Harness is well on the way to completing all seven hours. He has just delivered episode five and, with Toby Haynes on board to direct, we are in an excellent position to begin pre-production later this month with production due to start filming in late summer.”
Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, BBC America says: “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is one of our next big series for our Supernatural Saturday block, as Susanna Clarke’s stories transcend borders and are perfect for our US audience. It’s another high-end drama for BBC America and we’re proud to be working with Cuba Pictures and BBC One.”
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is going into early pre-production this month and filming will take place in the UK including Yorkshire as one of several key filming locations and Canada beginning late summer 2013.
I have been getting into BBC America recently after finally catching up with Doctor Who on Netflix (I now understand all the references in Chris' review of The Story of Martha). I am also a big fan of the Nerdist podcast and I am very happy they finally got there own TV show on that channel. Now I haven't read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell yet, but I have heard good things and I have to assume that BBC will do a better job with the product then let's say Spike or Fox.
Sure its ASB, but some of the best alternate history out there involve implausible PODs. We can only hope for the best, but in the meantime I will keep you posted.
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories and a volunteer editor for Alt Hist magazine. His fiction can be found at Echelon Press, Jake's Monthly and The Were-Traveler. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.