U.K.'s Channel 4 Detonates North Korean

Political thriller series has been written by Matt Charman (above), who penned the script for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Cold War movie

LONDON — U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit North Korean political thriller “Opposite Number.” The 10-part drama series has been penned by British playwright and screenwriter Matt Charman, who wrote the original script for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Cold War movie.

The Channel 4 series kicks off with a covert mission to North Korea by a British nuclear scientist, who is then taken prisoner. This triggers an international crisis as he could be forced to help North Korea weaponize its nuclear technology. The British Prime Minister and the U.S. President, two leaders of very different political stripes, must work together and mobilize every level of their governments to pull the world back from the brink.

Charman said: “North Korea is one of the last truly impenetrable nations on the planet, and one of the most dangerous for the West. I wanted to write a drama that could blow the lid off our understanding of who we think the North Korean people are and what their government truly wants.”

Charman’s credits include “The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder” and “The Observer” for London’s National Theatre, and the upcoming BBC series “Our Zoo.” Charman penned the original script for Spielberg’s upcoming untitled Cold War thriller, which will star Tom Hanks. In May, Joel and Ethan Coen came on board to revise the script.

The Channel 4 series, produced by Mammoth Screen (“Endeavour,” “Parade’s End”), is the second commission to come out of Channel 4’s newly formed international drama division. Mammoth Screen and their distribution partner, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, are now seeking an international partner to board the project.

In April, Channel 4 outlined its strategy to invest in international drama co-productions as a means of boosting its original drama slate. Channel 4’s co-productions with international and U.K. partners will sit alongside its home-grown drama commissions. Channel 4 said its co-production slate aims to bring international talent to Channel 4, and to give British writers, directors and producers an international platform.

Simon Maxwell, head of international drama at Channel 4, said: “ ‘Opposite Number’ is a shining example of the ambition of Channel 4’s move into international drama. With this slate, we want to work with the brightest and boldest home-grown talents willing to step onto the world stage and tell stories of global relevance, with all the distinct qualities of a Channel 4 drama. We look forward to finding an international partner to share that vision.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more