A new TV adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic “The Count of Monte Cristo” is in the works for a major British broadcaster, with Lydia Adetunji and Amit Gupta writing the series. It will be the first screen version of the story to feature a black count in the title role.
The 19th-century novel followed Edmond Dantes as he sought revenge after being wrongly framed and imprisoned for treason. The classic tale has inspired countless film and TV adaptations. The new series is the first project from Neon Ink, the fledgling U.K.-based production company set up by former ITV Studios execs Kate Lewis and Julia Walsh.
French author Dumas wrote about his own African heritage and the discrimination he faced in his own life. Having a black count in Adetunji and Gupta’s take on his story, which will retain the period setting, will be a first, with casting to follow if the project gets a final greenlight.
Neon Ink is backed by European production and distribution group Banijay, whose French studios arm is understood to be jointly developing the new series. The broadcaster is still not known, but it is one of the big British players. Banijay would not comment, but has a sizable international sales operation and is expected to take it out internationally.
Adentunji’s credits include Sky series “Riviera,” and the upcoming ITV adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts and Crosses.” Gupta’s work includes the BAFTA-nominated Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen film “Resistance.”