EXCLUSIVE: UK TV firm Projector Pictures has secured the rights to the trilogy of espionage thrillers written by author and journalist Charlotte Philby, the granddaughter of ‘Cambridge spy’ Kim Philby.
Projector, whose credits include upcoming Channel 5 drama The Holiday and ITV’s Kidnap and Ransom, is developing the trilogy as a returning drama series.
Part Of The Family is Philby’s debut novel and was published by Harper Collins in 2019. It was followed up by A Double Life, with the final instalment in the trilogy, The Second Woman, hitting the shelves in July 2021.
The trilogy, which is linked through its themes and characters, is being adapted under the working title A Double Life. Executive producers are Projector Pictures’ Rachel Gesua (The Holiday) and Suzi McIntosh (New Tricks).
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In Part Of The Family, 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. 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. Ultimately, to protect her children, she must betray them.
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.
Kim Philby — one of the ‘Cambridge Spies’ — was Britain’s most famous communist double-agent, who defected to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His story inspired many books and films including Graham Greene’s The Third Man and the James Bond novels.
According to the producers, 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 the 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.
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 Philby added: “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.”
Projector Pictures was founded founded by actor Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead). Productions include ITV’s Kidnap and Ransom, starring Trevor Eve, Helen Baxendale, John Hannah and Sharon Small, feature length dramas for Channel 4: Twelfth Night, starring Parminder Nagra and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cinderella, starring Kathleen Turner and Leslie Philips and directed by Beeban Kidron, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, starring Kate Beckinsale and Ian Holm. The company has a first look deal with All3Media.