A corner of Terry Pratchett’s classic Discworld series will be adapted for the small screen by BBC America in The Watch.
The sprawling universe of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, a comic fantasy series of novels that has long since reached classic status, is getting a television adaptation treatment courtesy of BBC America in the form of a new original scripted series, The Watch, but the show will necessarily narrow its focus to the misfit cops that inhabit a subset of stories in the beloved series. BBC America will co-produce with Narrativia, and Simon Allen (The Musketeers) will pen the series with Hilary Salmon (Luther) at the helm. The first season will be eight episodes.
The Watch will follow the legendary City Watch along with recognizable characters such as Captain Sam Vimes, the last scion of nobility Lady Sybil Ramkin, the naïve but heroic Carrot, the mysterious Angua, the ingenious non-binary forensics expert Cheery, and Pratchett’s iconic characterization of Death. The series is described as a character-drive, punk rock thriller which will follow the City Watch “as they fight to save a ramshackle city of normalized wrongness, from both the past and future in a perilous quest.”
Here’s the full, official synopsis:
“Set in the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, where crime has been legalized, The Watch is a uniquely anarchic drama. The series centers on a group of misfit cops as they rise up from decades of helplessness to save their corrupt city from catastrophe. The Watch is an inclusive genre-bending series inspired by the legendary ‘City Watch’ subset of Sir Terry Pratchett’s bestselling “Discworld” novels and its many iconic characters.”
The Watch Cast
Game of Thrones‘ Richard Dormer is set to lead the cast of The Watch. Dormer will play Sam Vimes, “Captain of The Watch, disempowered by a broken society that’s reduced his department’s jurisdiction to almost nothing.”
Richard Dormer said of joining the project: “I’m so thrilled to be part of this brilliant madness and mayhem! I was immediately drawn to the multitude of layers to Sam Vimes, and I find the dynamic between him and his band of disenfranchised comrades very compelling.”
Jo Eaton-Kent (Don’t Forget The Driver) is Constable Cheery, “the ingenious non-binary forensics expert, ostracized by their kin and finding a new home and identity.”
Adam Hugill (1917) will play Constable Carrot, “the idealistic new recruit, raised by dwarfs, but really a human abandoned at birth.”
Marama Corlette (Blood Drive) is Corporal Angua, “tasked with Carrot’s training and keeping the rookie alive.”
Lara Rossi (Crossing Lines) has taken on the role of Lady Sybil Ramkin, “last scion of Ankh-Morpork’s nobility, who’s trying to fix the city’s wrongs with her chaotic vigilantism.”
Sam Adewunmi (The Last Tree) is “the wounded and wronged Carcer Dun, out to hijack destiny itself, take control of the city and exact a terrible revenge on an unjust reality.” Yikes!
The Watch Release Date
We don’t yet know specifically when BBC America will premiere The Watch, but we know it is slated to drop sometime in 2020. The series will begin filming in Cape Town, South Africa on September 30th.
The Water Writers & Director
In addition to Allen as head writer, the following writers have been announced as part of the writing team for The Watch: Joy Wilkinson (Doctor Who), Catherine Tregenna (Torchwood), Amrou Al-Khadi (Little America), and Ed Hime (Skins).
Craig Viveiros, who was behind the camera for the gorgeous and suspenseful Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None, is set to direct.
“The Watch has been startlingly reimagined for television by writer Simon Allen, while still cleaving to the humor, heart and ingenuity of Terry Pratchett’s incomparably original work,” said BBC America President, Sarah Barnett. “BBC America embraces what’s fresh and exhilarating in TV; we believe The Watch will astonish audiences.”
“With events in our own world making the insanity of Discworld seem outrageously familiar, there couldn’t be a better time to bring Terry’s fun, fire, and fury back to the small screen or a better place than BBC America,” said Allen. “I’m grateful to them, BBC Studios and especially Rob Wilkins at Narrativia who has been a constant source of inspiration on this epic and emotional journey.”
“The Watch is a distinctly British but defiantly global exhilarating thriller that is disruptive in its approach to the fantasy genre and also big on the themes of mortality, inclusion, alternative facts and justice,” Allen said of the series. “It’s a dizzying riot of hope, joy, suspense and audaciously dark humor. We can’t wait to work with BBC America to bring it all to life for existing fans and brand new audiences.”
“Many years ago Terry made the brave decision to allow brand new Watch stories to be told with his existing characters,” Rob Wilkins, who will executive produce The Watch on behalf of Narrativia, said. “It’s taken a long time for anything to happen because we guard these characters with our very lives! So many of Terry’s biggest ideas seem more vital and urgent now than ever before and I am thrilled to be working with Simon and such a talented team, who understand the unique genius of their creator. They have really keyed into the subversive qualities of Terry’s voice and they clearly adore Discworld as much as I and millions of fans around the world do.”
The Watch joins the string of successful original scripted programming at BBC America including the Emmy-nominated Killing Eve starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, the iconic series Doctor Who starring Jodie Whittaker, and the Golden Globe-winning Luther starring Idris Elba.