Tag Archive: John Preston

  1. Banijay Rights Reunites with Stonehouse and The Dig team for Runners

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    Banijay Rights today announces its partnership on Runners, a new returning drama series about the world’s first police force from the team behind Stonehouse and The Dig.

    Writer John Preston and Executive Producer Ellie Wood of Clearwood Films are once again joining forces for the multi-part drama that chronicles the creation of The Bow Street Runners at one of the most pivotal points in British history, with Banijay Rights on board to distribute globally.

    In the late 1740s, London was the most rapidly expanding city in Europe and engulfed by a colossal crime wave. With the city sliding ever closer to anarchy, author Henry Fielding, then Chief Magistrate of London, did something no one had previously dared to do before: he founded the world’s first-ever police force, The Bow Street Runners.

    This extraordinary story will tell of how a group of just six police officers, none with any training or experience, set about imposing law and order on a completely lawless society and embarked on solving one of the strangest cases of its time – one with momentous political and social ramifications.

    John Preston, Writer and Executive Producer, said: “The founding of the first ever police force is one of the most astonishing stories I have ever come across. The idea that a band of six people could take on the might of London’s underworld is so rich and dramatic that it often beggars belief. But it just goes to show that history is often made by people doing extraordinary things in the face of what appear to be insurmountable odds.”

     

    Ellie Wood, Executive Producer, said: “It is thrilling to be working with John Preston again on this phenomenal real-life story. This show is deeply researched, packed full of character, humour and written in John’s inimitable tone. The fact that the philandering novelist who wrote Tom Jones also created the world’s first police force is just one of many surprises in this fascinating drama.”


    Simon Cox, EVP Content & Acquisitions at Banijay Rights, said:
    “Runners is lined up to be a terrific tale – set at the moment where organised law and order were introduced to Britain for the very first time, a juxtaposition of cultural change that would set the country to a new order for centuries to come. To work again with John and Ellie on a project of this stature is exciting and we’re in no doubt the story of The Bow Street Runners’ early years will be a gripping one for global audiences to enjoy.”

     

    This is the third collaboration between Preston and Wood. Wood produced Preston’s novel, The Dig, which was adapted into a major feature film in 2021 for Netflix. Starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, it received multiple BAFTA nominations. Wood has also produced Preston’s forthcoming screenwriting debut, the ITV/BritBox International TV drama Stonehouse, which tells the remarkable story of the disgraced Labour politician and stars Matthew Macfayden as Stonehouse and Keeley Hawes as Stonehouse’s wife Barbara. Banijay Rights handles global distribution for the series.

    Preston, former Arts Editor for the Sunday Telegraph and London Evening Standard, is author of a number of acclaimed books. A Very English Scandal, the story of the political scandal involving Jeremy Thorpe, was adapted into the BAFTA award-winning TV drama in 2018, starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw and directed by Stephen Frears. His latest work, Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell, won the 2021 Costa Prize for best biography of the year.

    Wood previously worked on a number of award-winning dramas at the BBC, including Bleak House and The Line of Beauty, and later as executive producer at Clerkenwell Films and Tiger Aspect Productions. In 2019, she signed a first look development deal with Banijay Rights, the global distribution arm of Banijay.

  2. Political Drama, Stonehouse, Wins BBC Script Commission

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    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.”