William Boyd, the award-winning British novelist and screenwriter of “Chaplin” and “Any Human Heart,” is set to write the screenplay of a high-profile miniseries centred on the devastating fire that ripped through Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral in April 2019.
Philippe Rousselet’s Vendôme, U.K.-based Xavier Marchand’s Moonriver TV and Pathé are co-developing the project in collaboration with The New York Times. The mini-series marks the first TV show from Pathé, the French studio behind the Oscar-winning “Judy” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory,” as well as the first TV project to be announced under Vendôme and Pathé’s three-year production partnership that was unveiled in Cannes.
Based on The New York Times investigation, the show will chart the events of April 19, after a warning light first detected fire in the attic of the cathedral — one of the world’s most beloved and iconic French landmarks. The multi-layered narrative will be told from multiple perspectives and is to shed light on what triggered the fire and how firefighters and police officers battled to save the iconic cathedral from total destruction.
The Notre-Dame mini-series will re-team Marchand and Boyd who previously worked together on “The Trench,” a drama thriller about the physical and psychological conditions that young soldiers faced in the trenches during the First World War.
“William Boyd is one of the finest storytellers working today and one of a few whose novels and screenplays have been unafraid to tackle complex, historic subject matter,” said Rousselet, one of France’s top producers, whose credits include “La Famille Belier,” “Lord of War,” “Source Code” and “What Happened to Monday.”
“As his previous work about the Cold War and World War I illustrates, he has a rare ability to craft a story that, while remaining true to events, also elevates the subject matter into compelling emotional drama that resonates around the world,” added Rousselet.
Boyd said that having the “opportunity to dramatize the…events is both an exhilarating challenge and a fascinating chance to provide some forensic answers to the questions that everyone asked at the time — and is still asking.”
The screenwriter said the “devastating fire at Notre-Dame in Paris was one of those catastrophes that shocked and galvanized the entire world.”
A best-selling British author and screenwriter, Boyd has penned 16 novels which have been translated into more than 30 languages, as well as 18 TV series and films, including the movies “Chaplin,” “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” and “The Trench” which he also directed. His TV series credits include adaptations of his novels “Armadillo” and “Restless” for BBC and “Any Human Heart” for Channel 4. Boyd’s “Spy City,” a six-hour Cold War thriller about the construction of the Berlin Wall is in post-production.
Aside from the mini-series, Pathé and Vendôme are currently working together on “Coda,” Sian Heder’s English-language remake of “La Famille Belier” starring Emilia Jones.