Urban fantasy novel series Rivers of London is to be adapted into a TV series by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s production company. Since the stratospheric success of Game of Thrones, producers have constantly been on the lookout for the next big thing in fantasy, and this adaptation of a book series will be the latest attempt to tap into the recently popularized genre.
A creation of author Ben Aaronovitch, the first novel in the series was also named Rivers of London (although was published as Midnight Riot in the US), subsequently lending its name to the series as a whole. It tells the story of Peter Grant, a police constable who after a chance encounter ends up becoming the country’s first apprentice wizard in over seventy years, joining a very small and highly specialized branch of the police that deals with crime involving magic. The novel was met with a widely positive reception upon its initial publication in 2011, and has so far gone on to spawn another six novels, as well as one novella and six limited comic book series.
Per Deadline, Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London novels are being adapted by Stolen Picture, a production company recently founded by actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Season 1 of the TV series, intended to run for eight to ten episodes, will be a straight adaptation of the first novel, which sees Peter begin his training in the basic fundamentals of magic as London is beset by a string of bizarre murders. At the same time, a war begins to brew between the two gods of the River Thames - one ruling the city and one the countryside - each backed up by their “children,” the genius loci of the river’s numerous tributaries within the two areas.
After starring with Jessica Stevenson in UK comedy TV series Spaced, Pegg and Frost came to prominence with the unexpected success of horror comedy Shaun of the Dead. They continued to collaborate with director Edgar Wright on the two subsequent entries of the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, and also appeared together in unrelated projects like sci-fi comedy Paul and the recently released horror comedy Slaughterhouse Rulez, the latter also being Stolen Picture’s debut production.
Urban fantasy - the tropes of the genre transposed into the modern day - often involves stories that are closely tied to the city in which they take place, such as the Chicago of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, the Toronto of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, or the St. Louis of Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake. The British capital featured in Rivers of London takes this one step further, with the city’s dark and frequently blood-soaked history often playing a direct role in the story and the gathering forces affecting events within them, which has the potential to make for dark yet compelling television. Bringing the books to life would also highlight the metropolis’ less salubrious areas that visiting big budget productions tend to avoid, portraying the city in a less glamorized and more authentic manner than is usually seen.