You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Colin Callender’s Playground to Produce Series About Europe’s Refugee Crisis ‘New Odyssey’

LONDON — Colin Callender’s production company Playground has secured the rights to Guardian journalist Patrick Kingsley’s book “The New Odyssey – The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” The company is developing the property as a major TV drama series though its U.K. office, which is headed by managing director Louise Pedersen and creative director Sophie Gardiner.

Kingsley, who was named foreign affairs journalist of the year at the British Journalism Awards last year, was appointed in 2015 by the Guardian as its migration correspondent — the first such post at a newspaper — and the book is the result of his work.

Throughout last year, Kingsley traveled to 17 countries along the migrant trail, meeting hundreds of refugees making their journey across deserts, seas and mountains to reach Europe. His book is an account of those travelers’ stories — explaining who they are, what keeps them going, and how they do it. But it is also an account of all those who help or exploit them along the way.

Kingsley sought to humanize the crisis by telling the story from the inside. His wrote about riding trains with Hashem al-Souki, as he traveled from Syria to Sweden; drinking illicit moonshine with the kingpin smuggler Hajj, an obese Libyan law graduate who makes millions from his new trade; or walking with Fattemah Abu al-Rouse, the pregnant Syrian teacher who fears losing her baby as she treks through the Balkans.

Gardiner said: “‘The New Odyssey’ is an epic piece of journalism that provides an intimate account of the people caught up in one of the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II. We believe this can be television at its best — powerful, emotional and compelling storytelling that explores the complexities and human dimensions of the biggest story of our time.”

Playground is a New York- and London-based film, television and theater company that was founded in 2012 by Callender. The company set up its London office in 2015 to expand its presence in the U.K.

Recent productions include six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Jonathan Pryce for the BBC and PBS’ “Masterpiece,” and the television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s “The Dresser,” starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Starz.

Playground is in pre-production in the U.K. on Kenneth Lonergan’s four-part miniseries adaptation of E.M Forster’s classic novel “Howards End” for the BBC.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Halsey, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Singer Halsey

    Emmys: Halsey to Sing In Memoriam Tribute at Sunday's Ceremony

    Pop star Halsey has been tapped to perform during the Emmy Awards on Sunday, while comedians Adam Devine and Thomas Lennon will also contribute to the telecast. With no Emmy host this year, producers Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted are relying more on presenters and other contributors to keep the show moving, Halsey, whose hits [...]

  • Bianna Golodryga CBS News

    Bianna Golodryga Joins CNN in Full-Time Role

    Sometimes, it pays for news anchors to take root in more than one organization. When Bianna Golodryga joined CBS News in the fall of 2018, she carved out a unique role for herself. She would work as a co-anchor on “CBS This Morning” while maintaining a position she had already established as a contributor to [...]

  • Lower lakes with small waterfalls, Plitvice

    Beta Film Boards Refugee and Drug Trafficking Thriller Series 'Amnesia'

    Beta Film, whose Mipcom lineup includes “Agent Hamilton,” “Babylon Berlin” and “Medici: The Magnificent,” has partnered with Croatian production company Drugi Plan on “Amnesia,” a six-hour thriller series about refugee and drug trafficking in the Southeast of Europe. The move adds to Munich, Germany-based Beta Film’s portfolio of Central and East European series, a growing [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Reed Hastings on the Streamer Wars: 'It's a Whole New World Starting in November'

    After dominating the subscription streaming scene for so long, Netflix is girding for a new phase in the SVOD wars with the entry of more deep-pocketed players like Disney and Apple, CEO Reed Hastings said Friday. “While we’ve been competing with many people in the last decade, it’s a whole new world starting in November…between [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    Viacom's Channel 5 and Comedy Central Join BritBox Ahead of Its U.K. Launch

    Viacom-owned Channel 5 and Comedy Central have joined BritBox, the “best-of-British” subscription streaming service created by the BBC and ITV. The platform, already available in North America, is due to launch on home turf in Britain by year’s end. Under the deal with Viacom, shows from the U.K.’s Channel 5 can appear on BritBox following [...]

  • The-Head

    Behind the Scenes With Mediapro’s Antarctic Thriller Series 'The Head'

    On Sept. 13, the cast and crew of Mediapro’s upcoming dramatic thriller “The Head” gathered at a swanky Santa Cruz de Tenerife hotel to kick off promotional duties for this English-language series, which will wrap shooting later this month. It was day 50 of production, and the cast had been working late, rushing to get [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content