MIPTV: Tandem Teams With BBC, '24' Producer on 'Lionhearts'

Pierre Morel

'Taken' director Pierre Morel is attached to direct the first two episodes of the epic miniseries, set during the Crusades.

The BBC, 24 producer Robert Cochran and Germany's Tandem Productions are developing an event TV series based on the lives, and military adventures, of King Richard the Lionheart and his opponent, Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria.

The project: Lionhearts: The Crusade will turn on the events of the Third Crusade of 1191-92, when King Richard I launched his campaign to seize Jerusalem. 

Pierre Morel, director of the first Taken film, is attached to helm the first two episodes of the series.

The period drama plays to the obvious strengths of the BBC, which just scored record ratings for its six-part miniseries Wolf Hall, starring Homeland's Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell.

Cochran, creator of Fox's hit series 24, has experience producing internationally on the two 24 spinoffs: 24: Live Another Day, which was shot in England, and 24: India, which was shot on location in the subcontinent.  

The Lionhearts project — which was first reported on by Variety — is another step forward for Tandem, which produced the Emmy-nominated mini The Pillars of the Earth and has successfully moved into one-hour drama series with shows such as the crime procedural Crossing Lines and dramedy Spotless. The company is a subsidiary of France's StudioCanal and has used the group's financial backing to rack up its production volume.

Actors Elizabeth Mitchell and Goran Visnjic, the stars of the third season of Crossing Lines, presented the show with Tandem at international television market MIPTV in Cannes on Monday. Tandem topper Rola Bauer is executive producer on Crossing Lines along with Frank Spotnitz. The show began principal photography in Prague in February and will deliver later this year. Spotless, co-created by Ed McCardie and Corinne Marrinan, premiered on French pay-TV network CanalPlus earlier this year.