BBC America announced today that it would be co-producing "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," a new seven-part drama series to join the ranks of the network's already crowded, popular Supernatural Saturday lineup. BBC One first announced the series in November of last year -- BBC America's participation means that the drama will have a home in the U.S. and will likely have its planned 2014 premiere close to the U.K. air date.
Based on the bestselling novel by British author Susanna Clarke, the series is set in an alternate English history at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, one in which magic exists.
The BBC is keeping things in house for "Strange & Norrell," with "Wallander" writer Peter Harness doing the adaptation and "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" stalwart helmer Toby Haynes directing. Filming is set to start soon, with Nick Marston of producer Cuba Pictures ("Boy A") saying, “The production has now developed into a seven-part series and we are delighted that Peter Harness is well on the way to completing all seven hours. He has just delivered episode five and, with Toby Haynes on board to direct, we are in an excellent position to begin pre-production later this month with production due to start filming in late summer.”
No casting has been announced. Given the popularity and acclaim of the novel on which it's based, "Strange & Norrell" seems like a pretty good fit among BBC America's other Saturday successes such as flagship sci-fi hit "Doctor Who" and the newly minted clone drama "Orphan Black."
An adaptation of the novel has been a long time coming, with "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes having worked on a feature film script for New Line back in 2006.