First published in 1971, the original “The Day of the Jackal” novel is set in 1963, the year the president of France, Charles de Gaulle, granted Algeria its independence. The move resulted in several assassination attempts on his life, mostly from the far-right Organisation de L’Armée Secrète (OAS). The novel focuses on a fictional OAS plot to kill de Gaulle via a mysterious foreign assassin with the codename “The Jackal.” Meanwhile, the French government gets wind of the plot and hires Deputy Commissioner Claude Lebel to find and capture the assassin. The novel was well received upon publication, and Forsyth received an Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America in 1972.
Sky and Peacock’s adaptation is described as a “contemporary reimagining” of the novel, taking inspiration from both the original source material and the critically acclaimed 1973 U.K. film adaptation, which starred Edward Fox and Michael Lonsdale and was directed by Fred Zinnemann. The show will reportedly focus more on the backstory of the mysterious Jackal and will be set in the modern-day political world.
Ronan Bennett, best known for creating the crime series “Top Boy” and writing the screenplays for films such as “Face” and “Public Enemies,” will serve as the writer and showrunner for “The Day of the Jackal” adaptation. “Game of Thrones” and “Luther” director Brian Kirk will serve as lead director of the series. Casting for the show has not yet been announced, but production is expected to begin next summer.
Aside from the 1973 film, two other films based on “The Day of the Jackal” have been made. In 1988, “August 1,” an Indian film directed by Sibi Malayil, loosely adapted the original novel’s plot. In 1997 came “The Jackal,” a loose American adaptation of the book, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier in his last onscreen role. Forsyth opposed the production of the 1973 film and lobbied Zinnemann to change its name to disassociate it from the original work.
Carnival Films, a subsidiary of Universal International Studios, produces “The Day of the Jackal” in association with Sky Studios. Sky’s Director of Drama Commissioning Gabriel Silver and Executive Producer Sam Hoyle commissioned the series for Zai Bennett, managing director of Sky UK & Ireland. Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant will executive produce for Carnival Films. Forsyth will serve as consulting producer, while Christopher Hall serves as producer. The series will stream on Peacock in the U.S. and will be available on Sky in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. International sales will be handled by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.