ITV has commissioned thirteen-part drama Beowulf, an epic re-imagining of one of literature’s greatest and most enduring heroes, a character that’s no stranger to comic book fans.
Created by James Dormer (Strike Back, Wallander, Outcast) , Tim Haines (Primeval, Sinbad, Defying Gravity) and Katie Newman, the new action-packed series is set in the mythical Shieldlands, a place of spectacle and danger populated by both humans and fantastical creatures and will be filmed amongst the breathtaking beauty of England’s North East starting in April 2015 for transmission on ITV. There are no casting details presently.
ITV describes it as a western set in the Dark Ages of Britain’s mythic past, the story unfolding on a huge canvas. The first episode sees Beowulf who, after spending many years wandering as a mercenary warrior, returns to Herot to pay his respects to the recently deceased Thane, Hrothgar – the man who raised him. But when Herot is attacked by the terrifying monster Grendl, Beowulf has no choice but to hunt it down, winning favour with Herot’s new female Thane, and the wider community, in the process.
And so begins a personal journey that sees this mighty and capable man slowly reconnect with the notion of family and home.
“Beowulf is a series about courage, greed, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, power, man versus wilderness and, of course love,” say ITV. “It is a series that explores the notion of good and evil, heroes and villians. However, beyond these wider political undercurrents and inner personal turmoils are the excitement, danger and sense of adventure that any great Western has. Epic fights, thrilling chases, raids, celebrations and battles are an essential part of the promise.
“Hundreds of years ago our ancestors listened to the story of Beowulf because it was a great adventure story,” enthuses James Dormer who will write and executive produce the series. “It scared them, thrilled them, made them laugh and cry. But they also listened because they recognised themselves and their fears in it. By holding a mirror up to them this story helped define them and thus – us. So it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to make it relevant again for a wide audience – to let them own it again. To let them see themselves in it.”
ITV Studios’ Creative Director of Drama Tim Haines will executive produce with ITV Studios’ Executive Producer of Drama Katie Newman (Primeval: New World).
Stephen Smallwood (Ripper Street, The Day of the Triffids, DCI Banks) will produce on location in County Durham and Northumberland. The Production’s choice to use the spectacular locations available in Durham and Northumberland has been encouraged by the enthusiastic support of the various Councils of the North East.
Beowulf has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.
“Beowulf is a series with a charismatic protagonist at its heart,” said Steve. “Equally it’s a spirited and fascinating ensemble drama with each character taking their own emotional and sometimes perilous journey. We’re delighted to be commissioning Beowulf and to be working with Tim Haines and his production team,” he added.
Beowulf has featured in several comics down the years, so perhaps there’s a chance there will be a similar spin-off? Past comic incarnations include a DC Comics series, Beowulf: Dragon Slayer, launched in 1975, a 2005 series from Speakeasy Comics and a 2007 four issue mini-series and film adaptation, from IDW Publishing based on the Neil Gaiman and screenwriter Roger Avary screen adaptation, available as a digital edition.