'Chernobyl' Star, 'Trainspotting' Author Lead BritBox Originals

Courtesy of HBO
Jared Harris

The U.K. streaming service from the BBC and ITV has greenlit its first slate of originals.

BritBox, the U.K. streaming service created by ITV and the BBC, has begun flexing its original programming muscles. 

Alongside the previously announced Cold War thriller A Spy Among Friends, produced by ITV Studios and set to star Damian Lewis and Dominic West, the platform has greenlit three new scripted dramas. 

The five-part British revenge thriller The Beast Must Die — being produced by New Regency Television and Ridley Scott's Scott Free — has BAFTA-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated Chernobyl star Jared Harris poised to lead a cast including Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife, The Good Fight), Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon, On Chesil Beach) and Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Outcast). Based on the novel by Nicholas Blake (the pen name of poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis), The Beast Must Die tells the story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of the man she believes killed her son.

Dome Karukoski (Tolkien, Tom of Finland) directs, with Sarada McDermott (Bridgerton, Official Secrets) producing, with the film adapted by screenwriter Gaby Chiappe (Their Finest, Shetland). Executive producers are Ed Rubin and Emma Broughton for New Regency, which will also handle international distribution, Marina Brackenbury and David W. Zucker for Scott Free, as well as Parker and Chiappe.

"We are tremendously excited to be bringing Nicholas Blake's gripping novel to the screen, as the first drama for New Regency Television out of the U.K. — and one of the first BritBox originals," said Rubin, head of New Regency Television International. "It's been adapted brilliantly by Gaby, and we couldn't ask for a more talented cast and team to bring it to life."

Crime sees Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh adapt his own novel alongside his longstanding screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh (Wedding Belles). Set in Edinburgh and directed by James Strong (Liar, Broadchurch) the six-episode production will star Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2, Hitman) as Detective Inspector Ray Lennox, who is investigating the disappearance of a schoolgirl while battling his own personal demons.

Crime is being produced by Buccaneer Media, Tony Wood and Dougray Scott. Executive producers are Welsh, Cavanagh, Richard Tulk-Hart and James Strong. Cineflex Rights will distribute worldwide.

"Delighted that BritBox have picked this up," said Irvine. "Lennox is a compelling character for me, not so much a cop as a broken avenging angel. So don't expect a run of the mill cop show, and nonces beware." 

Magpie Murders is adapted from the best-seller written by Anthony Horowitz and was commissioned by BritBox alongside PBS' Masterpiece on PBS and will be produced by Eleventh Hour Films.

Lauded as "a magnificent piece of crime fiction" and "an ingenious novel within a novel" by The Sunday Times, Magpie Murders topped multiple best-seller lists. Its international awards included the prestigious Macavity Award for best novel. The murder mystery revolves around the character Susan Ryeland, an editor who is given an unfinished manuscript of author Alan Conway's latest novel, but has little idea it will change her life.

"This is an extraordinary and distinctive drama. I don't think there's ever been a crime show like it with a strong female lead treading the line between reality and fiction as she fights to uncover the truth," said Jill Green of Eleventh Hour Films.

Added Horowitz, "Magpie Murders is my most successful novel and it wasn't easy to adapt. But I think the result is a completely original drama that will delight and beguile audiences in equal measure."