“Wonder Woman 1984” star Connie Nielsen and “Doctor Who’s” Christopher Eccleston are set to star in psychological drama “Close to Me,” the first English-language drama to originate from Nordic Entertainment Group’s (NENT) fledgling U.K. operation.
NENT Studios U.K. is adapting British author Amanda Reynolds’ novel “Close to Me” in an eponymous six-part series that will debut on NENT Group-backed streamer Viaplay in the Nordic and Baltic regions as an Original, and air in the U.K. on Channel 4, which has acquired the project.
Mexican outfit Dopamine, which recently partnered with NENT Studios U.K. for scripted programs, will serve as a co-production partner on the series — a rare English-language scripted co-production for a Latin American business — while NENT Studios U.K. will distribute the title internationally.
The project is a major step forward for Nordic powerhouse NENT Group’s efforts in the U.K., a key market for scripted drama series in Europe. Earlier this year, the company reorganized its content arm, NENT Studios, to focus on scripted drama production across both TV and film, as well as distribution. The drive informs NENT Group’s focus on Viaplay, which is to launch around 30 originals this year and is targeting an annual 40-title slate from 2021.
“Close to Me,” written by Angela Pell (“Snow Cake,” “Gifted”), tells the story of Jo Harding (Nielsen), a woman who has a seemingly perfect life with her partner (Eccleston) until a fall erases an entire year from her memory. As she struggles to piece events together, Jo discovers that her life was in fact far from perfect, with someone trying to keep a terrible secret from her.
The series was originally developed by The Development Partnership and Great Point Media and is part of TDP’s first look deal with NENT Studios U.K. “Close to Me” is the first series from the venture, which was formed to create premium drama projects for the international market.
TDP is also the sister company of agency The Artists Partnership, which represents both the underlying rights for “Close to Me” by Reynolds in addition to Danish star Nielsen. Michael Samuels (“The Windermere Children,” “The Missing”) is on board to direct, while Gina Carter (“Yardie”) will executive produce, alongside Robert Taylor and Ed Clarke of TDP and Dave Clarke from NENT Studios U.K.
In addition to her leading role, Nielsen will also be an executive producer on the show. Her acting credits include “Gladiator,” “Mission to Mars,” “The Hunted” and “Nymphomaniac.” She also appears as DC Comics superhero Hippolyta in the films “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League” and the forthcoming “Wonder Woman 1984.”
Meanwhile, Eccleston, perhaps best known for his 2005 turn as the ninth Doctor Who in the revived franchise, will take up the mantle of Time Lord once again after 15 years in a new audio series from BBC Studios.
Richard Halliwell, CEO of NENT Studios U.K., said: “’Close to Me’ is an impressive title to spearhead NENT Studios U.K.’s slate of original content and will undoubtedly prove an excellent calling card for the new business.
“We are currently developing a high-volume, wide-ranging slate of scripted projects, primarily for Viaplay, and anticipate announcing further greenlights over the coming months. I believe our new business to be a very attractive proposition, especially for British drama producers and writers, and encourage those with great ideas to get in touch,” said Halliwell.
Robert Taylor, managing director of The Development Partnership, added: “We saw the huge potential for development in Amanda Reynolds’ novel as soon as we read it and Angela Pell has taken that foundation and written fantastic scripts which bring this world and these characters to life. We are delighted to be working with both Channel 4 and Viaplay, and with the incredibly strong team we have assembled in front of and behind the camera.”
Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group chief content officer, said: “This inventive, unsettling and fascinating drama uncovers the deception that can lie below the surface of a seemingly perfect family life. The constantly twisting plot, straight to camera dialogue and great indie soundtrack will draw in viewers, while also exploring a subject rarely highlighted on screen — the female mid-life crisis. Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston are hugely charismatic talents and this series asks a question that everyone can relate to – what do we really know about ourselves and those closest to us?”
“Close to Me” goes into production in the U.K. later this month.