Netflix Eyes Charles Dickens Drama With U.K.'s Channel 4

3:23 AM PST 08/21/2014 by Georg Szalai

The streaming giant has great expectations as it continues to become a bigger player in Europe

Netflix is in talks to co-produce a TV adaptation of a Charles Dickens drama with British broadcaster Channel 4.

For the U.S. streaming video giant, which continues to raise its profile in Europe with subscriber growth and content deals, a co-production agreement could be the most significant partnership with a U.K. broadcaster, Broadcast magazine reported. 

Netflix typically orders its own originals or buys them from others rather than partnering with a major network.

The company does have a co-production partnership for Lilyhammer, though, which airs on Norwegian broadcaster NRK. It also partnered with Channel 4 on Derek from Ricky Gervais, for which Netflix has the rights outside the U.K.

The model has seemed to work well for Netflix in Europe, with industry observers expecting more possible co-productions once the streaming service launches next month in France, Germany and four other European markets.

The Channel 4 adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities will be made by independent producer Mammoth Screen, the company behind BBC and HBO miniseries Parade's End, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch in the story of a love triangle set during World War I. Broadcast magazine reported that the network is looking for a U.S. partner, with Netflix being a leading contender.

BBC Worldwide, which owns the international rights to the series, is helping in the search for a U.S. partner. Channel 4 earlier this year said it was looking to co-produce more drama series with international partners, particularly in the U.S.

The Dickens story, set in London and Paris during the French Revolution, is about two men with similar looks but very different lives. It was previously adapted for TV — once for the BBC and once for ITV.

Alan Bleasdale, who adapted Dickens' Oliver Twist for PBS and ITV in the late 1990s, is writing the Channel 4 version of A Tale of Two Cities.

Netflix recently reported 50.5 million subscribers as of the end of June. It also made headlines in the U.K. earlier this year when it announced that it has ordered The Crown, its first original production to be made in Britain. Inspired by Peter Morgan's play The Audience, it will focus on Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne.

A Netflix spokesman declined to comment. Channel 4 wasn't immediately available for comment.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai 

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