Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is an incredible piece of urban fantasy fiction that has already seen itself adapted to various mediums. Gaiman originally penned the twisted tale for a 1996 BBC TV miniseries which he created with Lenny Henry. While the story ideas were great, some technical issues left much to be desired on the TV production, giving us a bit of a mixed bag. Luckily, Gaiman then adapted his story into a brilliant novel (visual effects budget issues isn’t a concern for books), which was then also adapted by acclaimed comic book writer Mike Carey into a 2005 comic book mini-series (which is where I first experienced it), and it was followed up the next year with a very well received Radio 4 dramatization that featured the likes of James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Natalie Dormer and Sir Christopher Lee.
That’s a whole lot of adaptations for just one story, but apparently there’s room for one more as Deadline is reporting that Francis Lawrence has been tapped to direct and exec produce a new TV series adaptation of the tale. And for those of you who somehow managed to not check out the story in any of the formats it’s previously been presented in, here’s the Wikipedia writeup.
Richard Mayhew, a Scot living in London, encounters an injured girl named Door on the street one night. Despite his fiancée’s protests he decides to help her; upon doing so he ceases to exist on Earth and becomes real only to the denizens of ‘London Below’, whose inhabitants are generally invisible and non-existent to the people of ‘London Above’. He loses his house, his job and nearly his mind as he travels London Below in an attempt to make sense out of it all, find a way back, and help Door survive as she is hunted down by hired assassins.
In London Below the various familiar names of London all take on a new significance: for example Knightsbridge becomes “Night’s Bridge”, a stone bridge whose darkness takes its toll in human life; The Angel, Islington is an actual angel. London Below is a parallel world in and beneath the sewers. Its inhabitants are the homeless, but also people from other times, such as Roman legionaries and medieval monks, as well as fictional and fantastical characters.
Here’s a clip from the 1996 BBC mini-series that sees Richard Mayhew (Gary Bakewell) meeting the Marquis de Carabas (Paterson Joseph):
Lawrence, who also helmed I Am Legend and Constantine, has plenty of experience when it comes to working with both supernatural elements as well as the type of big budget production design that will be required to do this story justice. And of course he knows a thing or two about stories involving disparate worlds existing together as he has just spent the last few years directing the final 3 movies of the Hunger Games franchise.
The final chapter, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, is out in about two months and clearly Lawrence wants to stay busy, as Deadline are reporting that besides for Neverwhere, he’s also looking to direct a TV series adaptation of Charles Belfoure’s novel House of Thieves. This story follows a 19th century New York architect named John Cross who has to step in when his son runs up debts with a local gang. To raise the money to get his son out of trouble, Cross uses his architectural knowledge to devise a brilliant robbery that leaves detectives scratching their heads. But with that success, he becomes invaluable to the gang who want to drag him into their life of crime.
Both series actually sound pretty promising, but I would especially love to see what Lawrence can do with Neverwhere.
Last Updated: September 22, 2015