Earlier this year, it was announced that Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman were adapting Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake’s eccentric, darkly humorous series about the inhabitants of Castle Gormenghast, for television. While Gaiman and Goldsman are spearheading the project, it is as non-writing executive producers (considering they both have various other commitments to Good Omens, American Gods, and the new crop of Star Trek TV series). But now, according to Deadline, a writer has joined the project: Toby Whithouse, creator of Being Human and writer on Doctor Who, will pen the TV adaptation and serve as executive producer.
A contemporary to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peake’s series follows Titus Groan, 77th Earl and reluctant heir to Gormenghast Castle. Though he stands to inherit miles of rambling stone and mortar that make up the castle and its kingdom, it is only when charismatic kitchen boy Steerpike begins to climb the ranks of the castle that Titus desires to protect his birthright. “What follows,” the press release promises, “is an extended fight to the death for Gormenghast itself.”
“There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake’s remarkable Gormenghast novels,” said Neil Gaiman in the official announcement from FMNA back in April. “They were crafted by a master, who was also an artist, and they take us to an ancient castle as big as a city, with heroes and villains and people larger than life that are impossible to forget. There is a reason why there were two trilogies that lovers of the fantasy genre embraced in the Sixties: Lord of the Rings, and the Gormenghast books. It’s an honor to have been given the opportunity to help shepherd Peake’s brilliant and singular vision to the screen.”
Other EPs include Barry Spikings, whose career as a producer includes The Man Who Fell to Earth and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, among other films; and David A. Stern, the current EP on Howards End, the adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel.
“Luminaries like Mervyn Peake and my old friend Neil Gaiman are more than good company to keep,” Goldsman said. “I am grateful to Barry Spikings for the will, and FremantleMedia for the capacity, to help us bring the sprawling glory of Gormenghast to a modern audience.”
The last time Gormenghast was on television was a 2000 miniseries adaptation from the BBC, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Steerpike. It covered the plot of only the first two novels, Titus Groan and Gormenghast. This latest adaptation has optioned all five books in the series.
“We are tremendously excited by the prospect of seeing the Gormenghast books realized for television,” Fabian Peake, son of Mervyn and executor of the Peake estate, said. “This venture presents a unique opportunity to explore the imagination of a multi-faceted artist.”