'Vikings' Creator Michael Hirst to Pen 'Ibis Trilogy' Adaptation for Endemol Shine

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Michael Hirst

'Elizabeth' director Shekhar Kapur is helming the epic, set in the 19th century against the backdrop of the opium wars between Britain and China.

Michael Hirst — creator of The Vikings and The Tudors — is set to write the adaptation of Amitav Ghosh's best-selling novels The Ibis Trilogy, which is being produced by Endemol Shine’s Tiger Aspect in partnership with Endemol Shine India and DoveTail Media. 

The project will see Hirst re-team with his Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age director Shekhar Kapur, who is set to helm the series.

Ghosh’s masterpiece The Ibis Trilogy begins with Sea of Poppies, continues with River of Smoke and concludes with Flood of Fire, and is seen as a landmark of twenty-first century literature. Set in mid-nineteenth century Asia, the exotic series begins in India and will interweave the lives of vividly drawn characters against the backdrop of the opium wars between Britain and China.

“Since Abhishek [Rege] brought The Ibis Trilogy to our attention over a year ago, it’s been a joy to bring together a talented and passionate team — to supercharge this high-end, multi-layered journey," said Lars Blomgren, head of scripted for EMEA at Endemol Shine Group, which was recently acquired by French production giant Banijay in a deal said to be worth around $2.2 billion.

"Michael Hirst has a distinctive writing style, which appeals to a contemporary audience — and this paired with Shekhar’s vision — puts us in an excellent position to take a fully developed package to the global market in the new year.”

Tiger Aspect will lead production with newly appointed head of drama, Lucy Bedford, joining executive producers Gub Neal, Justin Thomson and Jeremy Gawade (DoveTale Media). Story editor Justin Pollard will serve as co-executive producer. Headed up by Rege, Endemol Shine India is also on board in the development of the project.

“It’s absolutely magic to be working with Shekhar Kapur once again to create a historic world of characters that the audience can universally connect with," said Hirst.

"The Ibis Trilogy is an extraordinary series of novels, which delivers the material to create an impressive, exciting and unique television series with both commercial and critical appeal. I’m thrilled to be working on this project, which will take television drama into new worlds and new opportunities and will tell the story of the Opium Wars from an Indian and Chinese perspective."