BBC America Adapting Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' Novels As Drama Series 'The Watch'

Discworld Split - H 2018
Courtesy of Random House

BBC America has greenlighted a new scripted series.

The network home to Killing Eve has ordered a new drama, The Watch, based on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels that have sold more than 90 million copies worldwide. The eight-episode hourlong series will be produced by BBC Studios for BBC America.

The Watch is described as a punk rock thriller inspired by the legendary “City Watch” subset of Discworld novels. The character-driven thriller centers on misfit cops as they fight to save a ramshackle city of normalized wrongness from both the past and future in a perilous quest. Billed as “modern and inclusive,” The Watch features many famous Discworld creations, including City Watch Captain Sam Vimes, the last scion of nobility Lady Sybil Ramkin, the naive but heroic Carrot, the mysterious Angua and the ingenious nonbinary forensics expert Cheery.

The Watch was commissioned for BBC America by president and GM Sarah Barnett and Nena Rodrigue, executive vp original programming, acquisitions and production. Co-produced with Narrativia and written by Simon Allen (The Musketeers), The Watch is executive produced by Hilary Salmon (Luther), Ben Donald for BBC Studios and Rob Wilkins for Narrativia. Phil Collinson (Doctor Who) is also an executive producer.

The Watch has been startlingly reimagined for television by writer Simon Allen, while still cleaving to the humor, heart and ingenuity of Terry Pratchett’s incomparably original work,” said Barnett. “BBC America embraces what’s fresh and exhilarating in TV; we believe The Watch will astonish audiences.”

Added Allen: “With events in our own world making the insanity of ‘Discworld’ seem outrageously familiar, there couldn’t be a better time to bring Terry’s fun, fire and fury back to the small screen or a better place than BBC America. I’m grateful to them, BBC Studios and especially Rob Wilkins at Narrativia who has been a constant source of inspiration on this epic and emotional journey.”

The Watch is a distinctly British but defiantly global exhilarating thriller that is disruptive in its approach to the fantasy genre and also big on the themes of mortality, inclusion, alternative facts and justice,” said Salmon. “It’s a dizzying riot of hope, joy, suspense and audaciously dark humor. We can’t wait to work with BBC America to bring it all to life for existing fans and brand-new audiences.”

“Many years ago Terry made the brave decision to allow brand-new Watch stories to be told with his existing characters. It’s taken a long time for anything to happen because we guard these characters with our very lives,” added Wilkins. “So many of Terry’s biggest ideas seem more vital and urgent now than ever before and I am thrilled to be working with Simon and such a talented team, who understand the unique genius of their creator. They have really keyed into the subversive qualities of Terry’s voice and they clearly adore Discworld as much as I and millions of fans around the world do.”

The Watch joins the channel’s other scripted series, including Killing, Doctor Who and Luther. BBC Studios is also making Good Omens, based on Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel, to be co-produced with Narrativia, The Blank Corporation and Amazon.