Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman are joining forces to produce a TV series adaptation of the late Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels for FremantleMedia. Gaiman, of course, is a world renowned fantasy and horror author who made his name writing The Sandman comic books for DC's Vertigo in the late 1980s and early '90s, before going on to pen such acclaimed novels as American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has also ventured further into the pool of television in recent years, having written multiple Doctor Who episodes and produced the American Gods TV series for FremantleMedia and Starz.
Most recently, Gaiman served as showrunner on Good Omens - Amazon's miniseries adaptation of the novel written by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett - and stepped in to help fill the hole left by American Gods showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, following their departure late last year. Gaiman, for his part, has announced his intention to focus more on novel writing once Good Omens is done and American Gods' season 2 showrunner, Jesse Alexander, is settled in. However, that doesn't mean he's stepping away from television altogether.
Deadline is reporting that Gaiman will serve as a "non-writing" executive producer on the Gormenghast TV series alongside the Oscar-winning Goldsman. Fremantle reportedly has the small screen rights to all five Gormenghast novels, including Peake's initial trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone), the novella Boy in Darkness, and the posthumously published Titus Awakes (which Peake's widow Maeve Gilmore helped to finish). Gaiman has further issued a statement on the matter, in which he sings the praises of Peake's books and their significance in fantasy literature history:
“There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake’s remarkable Gormenghast novels. 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.”
The first three Gormenghast books were published from 1946-59 and revolve around the massive gothic structure that is Castle Gormenghast, as well as its residents; Titus, heir to the throne of the House of Groan, his late father's loyal servant Flay, and the scheming kitchen boy Steerpike among them. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the late Christopher Lee respectively played Steerpike and Flay in the four-part miniseries that the BBC aired back in 2000, based on the first two Gormenghast books. Casting has yet to begin on the new Gormenghast TV adaptation though, with a search actively underway to select a showrunner for the series first.
Gaiman and FremantleMedia's involvement with Gormenghast is certainly encouraging at this stage, following their success with American Gods season 1. Goldsman boasts an impressive genre TV show resume too, having executive produced and in some cases written for Fringe, Underground, and Star Trek: Discovery over the last ten years. Gormenghast thus joins such developing projects as the BBC's His Dark Materials and Showtime's Kingkiller Chronicle series, on the growing list of intriguing fantasy novel TV adaptations that are currently somewhere in the pipeline.
We will bring you more information on Gormenghast as it becomes available.