U.K. Phone-Hacking Scandal Being Dramatized for TV

Rupert Murdoch
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch

'Thank You & Goodbye,' from the director of 'Salisbury Poisoning', writer of 'Des' and the producer of 'Icarus,' will tell the inside story of the scandal that led to the closure of 'The News of the World' in 2011 and rocked the Murdoch empire.

The infamous News International phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of British tabloid newspaper The News of the World in 2011 and saw Rupert Murdoch summoned to give evidence in a public hearing, is being dramatized for television.

Thank You & Goodbye (named after The News of the World's final front-page headline) comes from Saub Dibb, the BAFTA-nominated director of hit BBC mini-series The Salisbury Poisonings and Luke Neal, the writer of ITV's hugely popular drama series Des. Teddy Leifer, the three-time Emmy winning producer whose credits including 2018's Oscar-winning documentary Icarus, will exec produce for his Rise Films.

The drama — described by the producers as an "epic story of criminal practice deployed on an industrial scale that becomes a powerful tale of redemption" — is set to tell the inside story off the hacking scandal from the perspective of the tabloid journalists and private investigators at the heart of it all, which Dibb and Neal have gained exclusive access to.

"This is simply one of the most important, gripping and richest stories of this century - and yet we still don’t know even half of what really went on," said Dibb. "Along with exceptional new talent Luke Neal and the brilliant Teddy Leifer and his team, I’m so excited we’re able to tell it all for the first time in dramatic form, and from the point of view of the people at the heart of it: the band of so-called 'rogue reporters' who then blew the whistle on those that had instructed them and the industry at large."

Added Leifer: "The scandal and subsequent inquiry exposed just how interconnected certain newspapers were with the upper echelons of the political elite. Even though the News of the World was shut down, key players implicated in the scandal continued to take up positions of influence and shape the media ecosystem that surrounds us today."

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal made headlines around the world when it was revealed that a private investigator hired by the paper had hacked the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl. The subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of over 100 people, the imprisonment of Downing Street’s director of communications, the resignation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, an unprecedented public inquiry into the ethical practices of the British press and, ultimately, the closure of one of the world’s oldest and most popular newspapers.

"I am thrilled to collaborate with Saul and Rise Films to create a series about what I consider to be one of the most important moral crossroads of our generation," said Neal. "I believe by exploring - without judgment or sensationalism - the human nature of the people who contributed to this gross abuse of power, and trying to understand how and why they did this, is the only true way to stop this happening it again."

Dibb is represented by Casarotto and WME, Neal is represented by United Agents, Rise Films is represented by UTA and ACK Media Law.