Banijay Rights Sets New Returning Drama Series ‘Runners’ With Writer John Preston, Clearwood Films (EXCLUSIVE)

John Preston and Ellie Wood
Courtesy of Banijay Rights

Banijay Rights has set a new returning drama series titled “Runners” with writer John Preston (pictured above, left) and exec producer Ellie Wood (pictured above, right) of Clearwood Films, the team behind “Stonehouse” and “The Dig.”

“Runners” tells the story of the world’s first police force, the Bow Street Runners, who were formed in the 1740s in London, which at the time was facing a colossal crime wave.

The Chief Magistrate of London at the time, Heny Fielding (who also happened to be a celebrated novelist), decided to take on this criminal underworld by assembling a group of police.

“This extraordinary story will tell of how a group of just six police officers, none with any training or experience, set about imposing law and order on a completely lawless society and embarked on solving one of the strangest cases of its time – one with momentous political and social ramifications,” reads the logline.

Wood (“Bleak House”) previously produced the film adaptation of Preston’s novel “The Dig” for Netflix, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, and is producing his screenwriting debut “Stonehouse” for ITV/BritBox International, featuring Matthew Macfayden and Keeley Hawes.

Preston also wrote “A Very English Scandal,” which was adapted into a TV drama starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw.

Wood has a first look development deal with Banijay Rights, the global distribution arm of Banijay.

Banijay Rights will distribute “Runners” globally. They are also handling international sales for “Stonehouse.”

“The founding of the first ever police force is one of the most astonishing stories I have ever come across,” said Preston. “The idea that a band of six people could take on the might of London’s underworld is so rich and dramatic that it often beggars belief. But it just goes to show that history is often made by people doing extraordinary things in the face of what appear to be insurmountable odds.”

Wood said: “It is thrilling to be working with John Preston again on this phenomenal real-life story. This show is deeply researched, packed full of character, humour and written in John’s inimitable tone. The fact that the philandering novelist who wrote Tom Jones also created the world’s first police force is just one of many surprises in this fascinating drama.”

Simon Cox, EVP for content and acquisitions at Banijay Rights, added: “’Runners’ is lined up to be a terrific tale – set at the moment where organised law and order were introduced to Britain for the very first time, a juxtaposition of cultural change that would set the country to a new order for centuries to come. To work again with John and Ellie on a project of this stature is exciting and we’re in no doubt the story of The Bow Street Runners’ early years will be a gripping one for global audiences to enjoy.”