Screen Daily reports that Paul Bettany, Brian Cox and Stephen Graham will lead a big screen adaptation of an acclaimed 2004 BBC mini-series originally called “Conviction,” now simply retitled “Blood,” set to shoot this January. Screenwriter Bill Gallagher will pen an adaptation of his own material, which centered on two policemen in the Criminal Investigation Department or CID being thrown into chaos by the murder of a twelve year-old girl and exploring, rather loftily, “the notion that everyone has the ability to kill and what it is that can trigger that reaction in any of us.” By anyone’s standards the announced cast is a very decent line-up — it’s a hopeful sign in the case of Bettany, who’s slid into ludicrous supernatural fare directed by Scott Stewart with alarming ease of late, whilst Graham and Cox always offer reliable support. Bankrolled by BBC Films, the BFI and Neal Street Productions, its producer Pippa Harris only let slip that the project promises to be a “fast-moving, gripping thriller.” One expects it will also involve the red liquid that circulates in the arteries and veins of vertebrate animals spilling in some capacity.
Nick Murphy, who’s slated to direct is as yet untested, at least in front of movie-going audiences, with his Rebecca Hall and Dominic West haunted house movie, that looks like “The Innocents” with more running (“The Awakening”) yet to open, though it’s certainly got more going for it than the doomed “Dream House” which won’t screen for critics. It also garnered some impressive notices from its debut out of Toronto, and Murphy netted a BAFTA for his Iraq war drama “Occupation” a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, the film’s screenwriter Gallagher burnt his fingers on the misjudged television remake of “The Prisoner”, but he has an otherwise solid resumé on the small screen (“Clocking Off,” “Lark Rise to Candelford”) that’s not to be sniffed at.
It’s not the first time a British mini-series has been retooled for wider audiences, and it likely won’t be the last, given that the success of Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy” has been consistently measured against its ability to live up to Arthur Hopcraft’s distillation of John le Carré’s novel on U.K. television screens several decades ago. Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic” was famously cribbed from the Channel 4 series “Traffik,” ditto Paul Abbot’s BBC series “State of Play,” whilst other classics of the genre (“Edge of Darkness” and Dennis Potter’s peerless “The Singing Detective”) were shrunk down, stripped of nuance, and, had Mel Gibson shoved in for good measure. As this is a home-grown production, expect there to be a greater deftness of touch and more fidelity to the original, though in spite of the praise the show received at the time, it’s not one that’s stuck in the cultural consciousness in the way perhaps flashier Brit TV fare like Daniel Craig‘s turn in “Archangel” or “Stuart: A Life Backwards” have. Given that the original was sold on the premise of subverting the staid conventions of the police crime procedural, here’s hoping it has ambitions on the scale of the recent “Red Riding” trilogy on its mind rather than, say, less illustrious British TV cop shows like “The Bill.” Whatever transpires, “Blood” certainly seems like one to keep an eye on.