U.K.’s Fearless Minds is joining forces with Spain’s “Hierro” producer Portocabo and Vaca TV to co-produce high-end historical mini-series project “Garbo, el espía que engañó a Hitler” (“Garbo, The Spy Who Double-Crossed Hitler”).
Inspired by the life of the one-off Juan Pujol, alias Garbo, a Spanish double agent who helped change the course of World War II, the six-episode TV drama project is being penned by James Wood, creator of BBC series “Quacks” and “Rev.”
The move marks an early U.K.-Spain TV co-production alliance for TV drama, with international TV giant the Banijay Group also entering as a partner.
“Garbo” was first unveiled as a project in June 2017 at TV drama co-production meeting Conecta Fiction, in Galicia’s Santiago de Compostela, by series executive producers, Portocabo’s Alfonso Blanco and Vaca TV’s Borja Pena (pictured, right to left).
British producer Jolyon Symonds (“Thorne: Sleepyhead,” “Complicit”), who launched Fearless Minds in 2017 as the fruit of a joint venture with Banijay, is also taking an executive producer credit on the series.
“This is a very natural U.K.-Spain co-production, and it is not easy to find a TV content that works so well in both markets,” Blanco said.
Combining the Spanish, Portuguese and English languages, the series’ characters will speak the natural language required by the story at every moment.
“Our idea is to be faithful to the facts: This is a story that starts in Madrid, promptly travels to Lisbon and ends at the MI5 headquarters in London,” he said.
The series will follow Juan Puyol and his incredible friendship with British spy Thomas Harris, met by chance, helping in 1944 to persuade German defense forces to focus on an Allied landing at Calais, rather than Normandy.
“The series is going to have a lot of drama but won’t be made from a historicist point of view. We are going to see the B side of the Normandy landing and WWII, from a focus which has not yet been told. And this makes the difference, apart from the extraordinary history that the series tells,” Blanco said.
“The differentiating element of the series -and that’s why we think James Wood is the right scriptwriter- is to tell it from a certain structure like Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ with a light tone, making it very agile, because what Puyol and Harris did was playing, create characters, a scam, as if they were professional scammers,” he added.
He continued: “There is some vaudeville and Wood is a specialist in this type of mid-tone content. He made ‘Rev.’ mixing British phlegm and very fine dialogues, with a lot of rhythm and a lot of truth. That is of great value.”
With regard to the reference to Spielberg, Blnco added that there is “some similarity in plot and in style, a thriller element, and sometimes high drama, It is also the incredible but true story of a tandem. We are going to look for a director that gives us that point of view.”
“Garbo” represents the most ambitious TV drama produced to date by La Coruña-based Portocabo and one of the biggest ever in the Spanish TV scripted market, according to Blanco.
Portocabo, which has a collaboration agreement with Banijay, has just produced thriller series “Hierro,” teaming with Movistar +, Arte France and Lagardère’s Atlantique. It world premiered at March’s Series Manía and is being handled by Banijay Rights.