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It’s always been pretty trendy for movies and television to look at books for project ideas. Recently UK TV programmer ITV signed on for a project based on the Old English epic narrative Beowulf. The story will take place in the Shieldlands, an area filled with both humans and mystical creatures and we're assuming the story will be rewritten with modern-day English.
ITV describes the 13-episode series as an adventure story that has survived the test of time, thanks to including such great themes as “courage, greed, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, power, man versus wilderness and, of course love.” For those who are unfamiliar with the story, it follows a hero from Scandinavia who gets involved with such heroic acts as fighting a monster named Grendal and later a dragon. The epic nature of the story, along with the dragon, makes it pretty clear that ITV is hoping to capitalize on the possibilities for fantasy in the TV realm, especially since Game of Thrones has managed to nab a lucrative, widespread audience. I’m not sure that Beowulf will be able to earn the same massive following, but kudos for giving a weird fantasy story a shot.
Strike Back’s James Dormer is set to write and executive produce the project, and Tim Haines and Katie Newman have also joined the series as executive producers. And while the company hasn’t signed on any cast members, yet, we do know that the drama will be shot in parts of England’s North East, including Durham and Northumberland.
This won’t be the first time that Beowulf has been produced for the big or small screen. The character has popped up in shows like Star Trek: Voyager, but the most famous adaptation of Beowulf in recent memory has to be the 2007 Robert Zemeckis film, which was animated and created with motion capture and started a ton of a-listers, including Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Robin Wright, Brendan Gleeson and Ray Winstone. Unlike the film, ITV’s endeavor will be live action.
Currently, ITV has plans to begin shooting the series in April for a premiere on the network later on. So, if you are reading this from the States, it could be a while before we learn whether or not a U.S. network has nabbed the drama. Popular ITV shows Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge have a second home on PBS, and it’s possible that U.S. audiences will be able to catch Beowulf via that outlet or even a streaming service down the line. We’ll keep you posted as Beowulf adds to its lineup.