BBC, FremantleMedia Set Up World War II Drama Series

Robert Harris adaptation and Peter Bowker drama coming to TV

The run-up to World War II and the conflict itself are the subject of new dramas from FremantleMedia and the BBC.

FremantleMedia has sealed a deal with Robert Harris and will adapt the writer’s latest novel, “Munich.” It will be produced by Euston Films and UFA Fiction, and shot in the U.K. and Germany.

The spy thriller is set in late 1938 as Europe edges towards war. It follows Hugh Legat, one of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s aides, and Paul Hartmann, a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. The pair were friends at Oxford, and their paths cross again as Europe’s major powers meet in Munich.

The book was released last month. Harris welcomed the TV adaptation. “From my point of view, this is the perfect combination – an Anglo-German co-production of a story set in England and Germany, telling the story of an Englishman and a German struggling against the Nazis,” he said. “From the moment I heard that Euston Films and UFA wanted to make it together, I knew my novel could not be in better hands.”

UFA’s World War II drama “Generation War” won an International Emmy.

The BBC’s “World on Fire” opens as war commences. It will tell the stories of ordinary people from all sides in the conflict, including an English translator in Warsaw, a U.S. war correspondent, and a Berlin family. It spans the first year of the war, from the German invasion of Poland to the Battle of Britain, and will be filmed in the U.K. and Europe.

“Poldark” production company Mammoth Screen is making the seven-part series, which will be penned by Peter Bowker (“The A Word”). “These are the stories of the ordinary people who shaped our world,” he said, “stories of loyalty and brutality, courage and fear, hopes, stories of love and loss, hopes and dreams forged in extraordinary times.”

Mammoth Screen is backed by ITV and ITV Studios will sell “World on Fire” internationally. The series was one of several new BBC scripted projects announced Wednesday by the pubcaster’s controller of drama, Piers Wenger.

“Trigonometry” follows a cash-strapped couple who let a third person into their small apartment, setting up a modern rom-com. House Productions will make the eight-part series for BBC Two.

An adaptation of Ian McGuire novel “The North Water” was also confirmed, and will be produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two. The five-parter will be set in the 1850s and follow a disgraced surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic, and finds himself on board with a harpooner and brutish killer. Andrew Haigh (“45 Years”) will adapt and direct.

Another new drama will look at the British political scandal known as the “Profumo affair” and the subsequent trial of Christine Keeler. “The Trial of Christine Keeler” will be a seven-part drama produced by Ecosse Films. Endemol Shine Intl. will handle distribution.

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