Banijay Rights, the leading distribution arm of Banijay, today announces that the BBC has commissioned John Preston to write Stonehouse, a three-part drama about the MP of the same name, who famously faked his own death.
On 20 November 1974, a pile of clothes was found on a beach in Miami. It appeared that John Stonehouse had gone swimming and was assumed drowned or killed by a shark. Despite the absence of a body, obituaries were published. However, it transpired he was very much alive and en route to Australia to set up a new life with his mistress and secretary, Sheila Buckley.
The mini-series will be co-produced by the UK indie Clearwood Films and Snowed-In Productions, with Ellie Wood (Decline and Fall, Bleak House) and Ruth Kenley-Letts (Mrs Wilson, C.B Strike) on-board as executive producers. Banijay Rights will handle international distribution.
Stonehouse is the second collaboration between Wood and Preston. Wood has produced, The Dig for Netflix, a forthcoming feature film adaptation of Preston’s novel of the same name, starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and Johnny Flynn.
John Preston is also the author of A Very English Scandal, adapted into a multi-award winning three-part drama for the BBC, starring Hugh Grant.
Later this year, Ellie Wood will produce But When We Dance, a single film for the BBC about living with Parkinson’s and the therapeutic effects of ballet.
Global distributor Banijay Rights has a first-look development deal with Clearwood Films demonstrating the company’s commitment to working with some of the best and most creative talent to strengthen its scripted offering. Stonehouse is the first drama production to emerge from the partnership.
Ellie Wood says,“I’m delighted to be working with John and the BBC on this extraordinary story. John has an exceptional tone and the ability to bring remarkable characters to life and together we hope to create a drama that will resonate with audiences worldwide.”
John Preston comments,“There has never been a more bizarre true-life story than that of John Stonehouse, who miraculously came back to life a month after his own “death”. I am thrilled to have the chance to dramatise a case which has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.”
Chris Stewart, Commercial Director at Banijay Rights adds,“Nothing creates scintillating drama quite like a true story and we can’t wait to see this infamous and fascinating tale brought to life by Ellie, John and the BBC.”