ROME – Rupert Murdoch’s European pay-TV operations Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland and Blighty’s BSkyB have teamed up to co-produce drama series “Diabolik,” an adaptation of a popular Italian comic book about a master thief who takes on different identities and steals from other criminals.

The ten one-hour episode live-action series now in development marks the first joint project for the three European pay-TV platforms owned by 21st Century Fox, which are now in talks to select a showrunner.

“Diabolik,” which was created by Italian sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962, is a longtime comic book hit in Italy where its 800th issue was published last year.

Dressed in a skintight black body suit, when not impersonating someone else with his set of lifelike masks, “Diabolik” is a quasi Robin Hood-like character who works with sexy partner, and lover, Eva Kant. Their arch-enemy is a square police inspector named Ginko.

The morally ambivalent dark “Diabolik” anti-hero has been movie material in Italo B-movie master Mario Bava’s 1968 “Danger: Diabolik” and was also adapted in toon series “Diabolik,” which bowed on Fox Kids in Europe in 2000 and ran for one series.

Sky’s high-profile “Diabolik” skein originates from Sky Italia which in recent years has been raising the bar for Italian scripted TV series, including “Romanzo Criminale” and, more recently “Gomorrah,” both widely sold around the world.

“I am particularly proud that one of our next series – and the first co-production with European partners – is inspired by a very popular Italian artistic product and brand,” Sky Italia Executive Vice President Programming Andrea Scrosati enthused in a statement.

BSkyB Head of Drama Anne Mensah said the project “has the potential to tap into the collective imagination of audiences in each of our three countries.”

BSkyB and Sky Italia are increasing the hours of original content in their pipelines as a way to diversify from sports and movies and gain a greater competitive edge. For Sky Deutschland “Diabolik” will be its first ever drama production.