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Inside Move: U.K. grocer rings up novel deal

Bird tale takes unlikely route towards Mouse

It’s not every day that film rights to a 47-year-old supermarket worker’s debut novel are sold to Disney before the book even hits the shelves. But that’s exactly what’s happened with Clive Woodall‘s “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy,” due in U.K. bookstores March 15.

Woodall, a department manager for Sainsbury’s in Hertfordshire, began “One for Sorrow” as a bedtime story for his sons after their mother walked out 11 years ago.

The fairytale is set in the imaginary kingdom of Birddom and follows the plight of a plucky robin tasked with saving the world from evil magpies.

Woodall’s tale may never have seen the light of day, let alone Disney’s feature animation offices, were it not for his own knight in shining armor — disenchanted director Franc Roddam.

The story of how Roddam, who wrote and directed the cult classic “Quadrophenia” (1979), first saw Woodall’s 600-page manuscript is the stuff of fairytales itself.

Roddam chanced upon the book when his bank manager sent it his way. The banker had been petitioned to pass it along to a possible benefactor by a cashier in his branch, who just happens to be Woodall’s second wife.

Roddam was so bowled over by Woodall’s writing that he established a publishing company — Ziji — specifically to publish the tome.

Disney was similarly impressed after Roddam’s pitch, and the two are in negotiations to acquire the film rights.

It’s not the first time Roddam has turned his attention to other creative endeavors when “the feature film gods have not been smiling” on him.

His last feature was mountain survival pic “K2” back in 1992, but the self-styled polymath also spent the last 12 years creating TV series, including “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet,” “Masterchef” and “The Canterbury Tales.”

Once the dust settles on his whirlwind publishing experiment, Roddam plans to return to directing features with “My Friend Matt,” a story based on Adam Zameedzad‘s book about civil conflict seen through the eyes of children.

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