Netflix has added seven new series to its original content slate out of the U.K., working with the likes of former “Mr. Bean” star Rowan Atkinson, Sam Mendes and Andy Serkis, along with new writing talent including Sarah Dollard and Sophie Petzal.
The shows, commissioned by the Original Series team as part of the streaming giant’s continued investment in the U.K., will all be written and produced domestically.
From Mendes and his Neal Street Productions is a six-part show called “The Red Zone,” which mysteriously teases “a comedy about football, but also not about football.” Meanwhile, Atkinson will star in short-form, 10-part comedy series “Man vs Bee,” which finds him housesitting a luxurious mansion while duking it out with a pesky bee.
Elsewhere, in a project executive produced by Serkis, “Giri/Haji” creator Joe Barton is on board to adapt Sally Green’s “Half Bad” trilogy of books, while Sophie Petzal (Channel 5’s “Blood”) will adapt short story “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.”
Anne Mensah, VP of U.K. Original Series at Netflix, said: “Setting up a team entirely based in the U.K. was always about being able to better connect to the fantastic program makers we have here — to provide a space for writers, producers, directors and actors that feels local, friendly and familiar but also provides talent the opportunity to make shows that will impact on a global scale. U.K.-made stories really do speak to the world.”
Mensah said that, alongside the new projects, more titles are in development with “American Son” and “Blue Story” director Andrew “Rapman” Onwubolu, Greg Burke, Bisha K Ali and Lucy Prebble. Also on the way is a retelling of Xiaolu Guo’s international bestseller “A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers” by writer Jing Lusi, developed with Greenacre Films.
“It’s the people — the talent both in front of and behind the screen — that makes us the second-biggest producing territory for Netflix outside the U.S. This was always about building a base and setting up the business in the U.K. for the long term and there is so much more to come,” said Mensah, the former head of drama for Sky who joined the streamer last year.
The new shows will be filmed throughout the nations and regions of the U.K. including the South West, Wales and in the North of England. Synopses, provided by Netflix, are below:
Baby Reindeer (8 x 30′)
Writer/Lead Actor: Richard Gadd (Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner 2016, he has written episodes for Sex Education)
Production Company: Clerkenwell Films
Synopsis: Based on a compelling true story, the hit 2019 Edinburgh Fringe one-man stage-play Baby Reindeer follows the writer and performer Richard Gadd’s warped relationship with his female stalker and the impact it has on him as he is ultimately forced to face a deep, dark buried trauma…
Richard is a multi-award winning writer, performer and actor. After its huge success at the Fringe, followed by a run at The Bush Theatre, London, Baby Reindeer won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement at an Affiliate Theatre.
Cuckoo Song (working title / 6 x 60′)
Writers: Sarah Dollard (Bridgerton, Doctor Who, Being Human), Andrea Gibb (Elizabeth Is Missing, Swallows & Amazons, Dear Frankie), Corinna Faith (The Innocents, The Power)
Production Company: Catalyst Global Media, Doghouse Pictures
Executive Producers: Charlotte Walls, Katie Swinden, Sarah Dollard
Synopsis: A gripping horror story about two warring sisters – one human, one monster – who must unite to reverse a supernatural pact gone horribly wrong, and with it mend their grief-stricken family. Based on the novel by Frances Hardinge.
Half Bad (8 x 60′)
Writer: Joe Barton (Giri/Haji, Humans, Troy: Fall Of A City)
Production Company: Imaginarium Productions
Executive Producers: Joe Barton, Andy Serkis, Jonathan Cavendish, Will Tennant.
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Nathan is the illegitimate son of the world’s most feared witch. He’s spent his whole life being monitored for signs he may follow the same destructive path as his father. But as tensions escalate, the old boundaries between “good” and “bad” fray and Nathan will discover what sort of person he truly is. This is an angsty, roller-coaster ride of a young adult show about a troubled kid who has the indomitable will to survive and defy the odds. The series is based on the Half Bad trilogy of books written by Sally Green.
Lockwood & Co (8 x 60′)
Lead Director/Writer: Joe Cornish (Attack the Block, The Kid Who Would Be King, Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn)
Production Company: Complete Fiction
Executive Producers: Nira Park, Rachael Prior, Joe Cornish
Synopsis: In London, where the most gifted teenage ghost-hunters venture nightly into perilous combat with deadly spirits, amidst the many corporate, adult-run agencies, one stands alone: independent of any commercial imperative or adult supervision – a tiny startup, run by two teenage boys and a newly arrived, supremely psychically gifted girl, a renegade trio destined to unravel a mystery that will change the course of history: Lockwood & Co. A supernatural action-adventure detective series, based on the best-selling novels by Jonathan Stroud.
Man vs Bee (10 x 10′)
Creators: Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean, Johnny English, Blackadder) and Will Davies (Johnny English, How to Train Your Dragon)
Production Company: HouseSitter Productions
Executive Producers: Will Davies and Chris Clark (Johnny English, All the Money in the World)
Synopsis: Renowned actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson plays a new character in this riotous comedy. A man finds himself at war with a bee while housesitting a luxurious mansion. Who will win, and what irreparable damage will be done in the process?
The Red Zone (6 x 30′)
Writers: Barney Ronay and Jonathan Liew
Production Company: Neal Street Productions
Executive Producers: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Nicolas Brown
Synopsis: This is a comedy about football, but also not about football. Mainly it’s a story about the people and the surfaces that collide in the orbit of this strange, obsessional world of bluffers, sharks and genuine talent. It’s about friendship, trust and families, in a world where no one is actually your friend, where there is zero trust and where families tend to devour each other every six months.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (7 x 60′)
Creator & Writer: Sophie Petzal
Production Company: House Productions
Executive Producers: Juliette Howell, Tessa Ross and Sophie Petzal
Synopsis: Adapted from the best-selling, Costa award-winning debut novel by Stuart Turton, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a truly original, mind-bending murder mystery. All set within the grounds of a sprawling country estate, this high-concept thriller presents an intriguing puzzle – how do you solve a murder when every time you are getting close to the answer, you wake up in someone else’s body?
U.K. shows currently in production include season two of “Top Boy,” season three of “Sex Education,” season five of “The Crown,” season three of Ricky Gervais’ “After Life,” and titles “Stay Close,” “Anatomy of a Scandal” and “The Last Bus.”
The streamer launched a new production hub at Shepperton Studios in Surrey and has shot close to 100 productions across the U.K. in the past two years. Overall, Netflix dished out $1 billion for content out of the U.K. in 2020 — doubling its 2019 spend of $500 million.