Heartman and Callan reboot in development for TV

Leicester author MP Wright sees his debut novel Heartman turned into new BBC1 series and is asked to script a modern update of 70s classic Callan.

Heartman HiRes CMYKYOU MAY not have heard of MP Wright, but in coming months you probably will. His first novel, Heartman, has just been released to acclaim from reviewers and is nominated for four Crime Writers’ Association awards. It’s a compelling tale about a Barbadian ex-policeman in 1960s Bristol and has created such a stir that it’s been snapped up by World Productions and has made a very busy man of Wright, 50, a former mental health and probation service worker.

Heartman is now in the hands of award-winning playwright and TV dramatist Tony Marchant, who was responsible for the excellent Garrow’s Law, and could be before the cameras before the end of the year, with a slot on BBC1 at the ready.

It’s a fascinating mystery focusing on JT Ellington, who has fled his home in the Caribbean after his life was ruined in a struggle against a powerful drug baron and corrupt police bosses. He winds up in Bristol, broke during a freezing 1965 winter, when he is approached by a rich Jamaican businessman in the city and asked to find a missing girl. This takes Ellington, an outsider in a hostile world of prejudice, into a dark conspiracy among the town’s elite. The TV project is rumoured to be attracting the attention of some major actors keen to get on board.

Further Heartman episodes planned

‘World Productions optioned Heartman before I had a book deal,’ the author tells me. ‘Producers, Simon Heath and Jake Lushington were eager to get the tone right and have worked tirelessly to bring in a great team. Our script is written by BAFTA
award-winning dramatist and playwright Tony Marchant, and we have a BBC 1 slot for the drama to be shown in two parts. World will be working on the other Ellington books – All Through The Night, The Restless Coffins and The Rivers Of Blood.’

Edward Woodward as Callan

Edward Woodward as Callan

As if working on writing and editing the proofs for all these stories, Mark Wright’s whirlwind success has also seen him offered another exciting opportunity – to develop a modern version of Callan, ITV’s gritty early 70s series about a government hitman played by Edward Woodward.

‘Last autumn I was approached by the James Mitchell estate [creator of When The Boat Comes In and Callan],’ Mark explains. ‘I have been asked to reboot Callan and I’m currently working on a pilot script called One Shot, One Kill, which will bring the self-hating, bolshy, British government assassin back out of the shadows.

‘All the series regulars are set to return – Hunter/Charlie, Toby Meres, Snell and of course, Lonely. All brought to life in a contemporary and gritty setting. It’s a challenge but its looking good, if I say so myself.’

CrimeTimePreview will post a full interview with MP Wright about these new series this weekend…

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