Today, Showtime Networks announced the pickup of the five-part limited series Melrose, starring and executive produced by Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Sherlock). BAFTA Award nominee David Nicholls (Far From the Madding Crowd, One Day) is writing all five episodes of the television adaptation. Based on the acclaimed Patrick Melrose series of semi-autobiographical novels written by Edward St. Aubyn, Melrose hilariously skewers the upper class as it tracks the protagonist’s harrowing odyssey from a deeply traumatic childhood through adult substance abuse and, ultimately, toward recovery. A co-production between Showtime and Sky Atlantic, the limited series will begin shooting in New York, London and the South of France in August. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks Inc.
In a tour de force role, Cumberbatch will play Melrose, an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy who struggles to overcome the damage inflicted by a horribly abusive father and the mother who tacitly condoned the behavior. Asked in 2013 if he could play any literary character ever, Cumberbatch shared in a Reddit Q&A that it would be Patrick Melrose. The limited series will be a true television saga, both gripping and humorous from Nicholls’ adaptation, with a dramatic sweep that encompasses the South of France in the 1960s, New York in the 1980s and Britain in the early 2000’s. Melrose will devote one hour to each of the five novels, with each episode set over the course of a few intense days in the life of the protagonist.
“We are delighted to be part of this incredible series,” said Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland. “We have been huge fans of these books for many years and David Nicholls adaptations are extraordinary.”
Michael Jackson and Oscar nominee and Emmy and Golden Globe-winning producer Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball, Grey Gardens) also serve as executive producers. Jackson, the former Channel Four and IAC executive, recently formed the drama banner Two Cities Television. Melrose will be the company’s first production. Along with Cumberbatch, Adam Ackland will executive produce for SunnyMarch.
“I’ve been a huge admirer of Edward St Aubyn’s novels for years, and can’t wait to bring these dark, witty, brilliant books to the screen,” said David Nicholls. “Benedict is the perfect Patrick Melrose.”
Said Horovitz and Jackson, “Edward St. Aubyn’s book series is one of the great works of fiction of the last thirty years. It’s a privilege to bring them to television with the person who was born to play this remarkable, compelling character.”
Cumberbatch has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his role as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, winning the honor in 2014. He also received Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, British Independent Film Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in 2015 for The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch’s other top roles include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County and Doctor Strange. In 2015, he played the title role in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Barbican Theatre.