PROJECTOR PICTURES OPTIONS CHARLOTTE PHILBY’S DEBUT ESPONAGE THRILLER TRILOGY – Part of the Family, A Double Life, The Second Woman in development as returning drama series –
– Novel inspired by Philby’s family history as granddaughter to communist double-agent Kim Philby –
BAFTA-nominated production company Projector Pictures has secured the rights to a trilogy of espionage thrillers written by author and journalist Charlotte Philby to be developed as a returning drama series.
Weaving domestic noir with international espionage, Part of the Family is Philby’s debut novel and was published by Harper Collins in 2019. It was swiftly followed up by A Double Life, with the final instalment in the trilogy, The Second Woman, hitting the shelves in July 2021.
Projector Pictures – the producer behind upcoming Channel 5 drama The Holiday and ITV’s Kidnap and Ransom – pursued the rights to the novels after being captivated by the startlingly original blend of genres, the territory of female solidarity and ultimate betrayal. The trilogy, which is linked through its themes and characters, provides an enticing framework to adapt the stories into an intelligent and emotionally charged thriller. The drama adaptation will draw on elements of all three books to create a high-end returning series with global appeal, under the working title of A Double Life, which will be executive produced by Projector Pictures’ Rachel Gesua (The Holiday, Kidnap and Ransom) and Suzi McIntosh (Peaky Blinders, Stella, Inspector George Gently).
Charlotte Philby is the granddaughter of Kim Philby, one of the ‘Cambridge Spies’ and Britain’s most famous communist double-agent, who defected to the Soviet Union during the Cold War and was so renowned his story inspired countless books and films including Graham Greene’s The Third Man and James Bond. Charlotte’s own experiences of growing up in the shadow of the grandfather she remembers fondly from childhood trips to Russia inspired her to write a contemporary blend of political thriller and domestic noir which turns the traditionally masculine spy story on its head, placing women and family at the centre of the action.
Part of the Family blends the intimate threat of the domestic thriller with the high-stakes tension of international espionage, to investigate what it takes for a wife and mother who has it all to abandon her family, in a powerful story filled with rich, complex, and intriguing characters.
Philby’s protagonist Anna Witherall appears to have the perfect life. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has an enviable job, beautiful home, and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. Their competent and capable nanny, Maria, is practically part of the family. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is covering up a tragic past and hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create. Only one thing is certain: to protect her children, she must betray them.
Featuring powerful and multi-faceted women hurtling towards truth and tragedy with enough brutal, bravura puzzle-box plotting to feed the most ravenous thriller fans, and a tantalising love triangle that balances the allure of young love with the dependable safe option, Part of the Family taps into a myriad of key themes which are central to Projector Pictures’ focus to create bold, distinctive British drama that appeals to the global market.
Executive Producer Rachel Gesua said: “From the moment I opened the book, I knew we had something highly original and special. The blend of espionage thriller with domestic suspense is rich territory for drama and it immediately appealed to us. Charlotte has written an incredible story that you can feel is peppered with her own childhood experiences with her infamous grandfather, evolved out of a desire to understand the vagaries of subterfuge and culpability in all areas of life – from the nefarious world of business and profit to the person we lie beside at night. Her subtle storytelling with nuanced dedication to unpick the moments that make us all ‘turn’ really won us over and made us want to translate this to the screen. We’re so excited to start on the development and start talking to partners for the series.”
Author Charlotte Philby said: “With a revolving cast, and a narrative that spans continents and decades – from a Greek island in the 1980s to present day London via Moscow and the Maldives – this is a complex trilogy. From our first meeting, I was blown away by Rachel and Suzi’s enthusiasm and passion for the story. Having seen how they connected to the characters and themes, and having heard their clear vision, I feel hugely confident in Projector’s vision for the books as a returning TV series. I cannot wait to see the world that has existed for so long in my mind, and on the page, given new life on-screen.”
The deal to bring Part of the Family to the screen was negotiated by Emily Hayward-Whitlock at The Artists Partnership on behalf of Julia Silk at Charlie Campbell Literary Agents. The drama series adaptation will be produced by Projector Pictures and executive produced by Rachel Gesua and Suzi McIntosh.
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