Ben Zygier

TEL AVIV — The UK’s Company Pictures has inked a format deal with Israel’s Tedy Productions and ADD Content Agency for a new program loosely focused on the story of Prisoner X, a real-life Mossad agent who died in an Israeli prison while facing grave charges of treason.

Ben Zygier, a dual Australian-Israeli citizen working for the Mossad, is believed to have hanged himself in his maximum-security cell in 2010 after revealing state secrets to unconfirmed enemies of Israel. The story of his imprisonment and death only broke in February 2013, and when it did, the tale of his espionage, treason and subsequent lonely suicide was breathlessly reported upon in the Israeli media.

The format, dubbed “Prisoner X,” will focus not on Zygier himself but on two women left behind when an Israeli agent disappears into solitary confinement. The program, which producers say will be a spy-thriller take on “Thelma and Louise,” follows two women struggling to fight for a man who has vanished into the black hole of state imprisonment. Together they navigate a maze of gag orders and national secrets, turning over stones that reveal terrifying realities about a man they thought they once knew.

“Prisoner X” is currently in development with Tedy Productions for Israeli television, with scribblers Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen working on a script for local cabler YES. The UK deal, which was signed by ADD’s Head of Content Hadas Mozes Lichtenstein, Tedy and YES, was brokered by CAA.

Company Pictures Managing Director John Yorke on Friday told Variety that he was eager to swoop up another format from Israel, which has provided auds in Blighty with a string of successful programs, from “Prisoners of War” to “Girlfri3nds” to the widely-hyped upcoming reality program “Rising Star.”

“We are incredibly excited to be working alongside such a stellar array of talent on ‘Prisoner X,’” Yorke said. “Israel has been at the forefront of some of the most original and smart television of the past few years, and it’s a huge privilege to be working with them to be bringing such an exciting idea to the screen.”

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