Sky Atlantic and SHOWTIME® are again joining forces to commission Melrose, a five-part series executive produced by and starring 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, towards recovery.
In a tour de force role, Cumberbatch will play Melrose, an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy, who struggles to overcome the damage inflicted by an abusive father and a mother who tacitly condoned the behaviour. Asked in 2013 if he could play any literary character ever, Cumberbatch shared in a Reddit Q&A that it would be Patrick Melrose.
Melrose is part of Sky’s commitment to offer a new big-screen drama every month. It 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 2000s. Melrose will devote an hour to each of the five novels, with an episode set over the course of a few intense days in the life of the protagonist.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland, SunnyMarch said: "We are delighted to be part of this incredible series. We have been huge fans of these books for many years and David Nicholls’ adaptations are extraordinary."
David Nicholls said: “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. Benedict is the perfect Patrick Melrose.”
Michael Jackson, a former Channel Four and IAC executive, and Oscar® nominee and Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning producer Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball, Grey Gardens) serve as executive producers through their recently formed Two Cities Television. Melrose will be the company’s first production. Along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland, who will executive produce for SunnyMarch Productions. Commissioned by Sky’s director of programmes Zai Bennett and head of drama Anne Mensah, the series will be co-produced by Sky Atlantic and SHOWTIME®.
Anne Mensah, head of drama for Sky, said: "Bravery and distinction are core to all original drama on Sky Atlantic. Through anti-hero Patrick Melrose, we will be offering viewers a compelling window into a world of privilege, cruelty and greed – crucially both a disturbing and a funny tale. We are so excited to welcome this amazing story and a huge thank you to Benedict, David and the whole team.”
Cumberbatch has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe® for his role as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, winning the honour 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.
Melrose will begin shooting in London, the South of France and New York in July. Sky Vision will own the distribution rights.
The show will be available on Sky Atlantic, on demand and the Sky Q and Sky Go mobile app, as well as through online streaming service NOW TV with a NOW TV Entertainment Month Pass.