‘Strike Back’s’ James Dormer to Adapt ‘Beowulf’ as Dark Ages Western

LONDON — James Dormer, who exec produced two seasons of “Strike Back,” is to adapt the epic Anglo-Saxon poem “Beowulf” as an action-packed drama.

The U.K. broadcaster ITV, which has greenlit the series, describes it as “a Western set in the Dark Ages of Britain’s mythic past.”

The 13-part series is set in the mythical Shieldlands, “a place of spectacle and danger populated by both humans and fantastical creatures,” said ITV. Dormer will write and executive produce the show, which will be filmed in England’s North East. Filming will begin in April 2015. There are no casting details at present.

In the first episode Beowulf returns, after spending many years wandering as a mercenary warrior, to Herot to pay his respects to the recently deceased Thane, Hrothgar — the man who raised him. But when Herot is attacked by the terrifying monster Grendl, Beowulf has no choice but to hunt it down, winning favor with Herot’s new female Thane, and the wider community, in the process.

Dormer, whose credits include “Wallander” and “Outcast,” said: “Hundreds of years ago our ancestors listened to the story of Beowulf because it was a great adventure story — it scared them, thrilled them, made them laugh and cry. But they also listened because they recognized themselves and their fears in it. By holding a mirror up to them this story helped define them and, thus, us. So it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to make it relevant again for a wide audience — to let them own it again. To let them see themselves in it.”

ITV Studios’ creative director of drama, Tim Haines (“Primeval,” “Sinbad,” “Defying Gravity”), will executive produce with ITV Studios’ executive producer of drama Katie Newman (“Primeval: New World”).
Stephen Smallwood (“Ripper Street,” “The Day of the Triffids,” “DCI Banks”) will produce.

“Beowulf” has been commissioned for ITV by director of drama Steve November and controller of drama Victoria Fea.

ITV stated: “ ‘Beowulf’ is a series about courage, greed, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, power, man versus wilderness and, of course, love. It is a series that explores the notion of good and evil, heroes and villains. However, beyond these wider political undercurrents and inner personal turmoils are the excitement, danger and sense of adventure that any great Western has. Epic fights, thrilling chases, raids, celebrations and battles are an essential part of the promise.”

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