Almost two decades after the BBC adapted Mervyn Peake’s classic fantasy series Gormenghast, Neil Gaiman is finally achieving his dream of bringing it back to the screen. According to Deadline, FremantleMedia has secured the rights to produce a TV series, with Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) leading the adaptation.
Johnathan Rhys Meyers stars in BBC’s 2000 TV miniseries Gormenghast. Image: BBC
Gaiman’s spent the past couple of years working to adapt Gormenghast, about the inhabitants of an isolated and decaying castle. He first hinted back in 2015 that he was working on turning it into a movie, with the full support of Fabian Peake, Mervyn Peake’s son. Two of the books were turned into a four-part BBC miniseries in 2000 – which starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christopher Lee – and fans have been eager to see another adaptation.
“There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake’s remarkable Gormenghast novels,” Gaiman said in a statement. “They were crafted by a master, who was also an artist, and they take us to an ancient castle as big as a city, with heroes and villains and people larger than life that are impossible to forget. There is a reason why there were two trilogies that lovers of the fantasy genre embraced in the Sixties: Lord of the Rings, and the Gormenghast books. It’s an honour to have been given the opportunity to help shepherd Peake’s brilliant and singular vision to the screen.”
The Gormenghast series was conceived as an ongoing novel but ended after three books and a novelette upon Peake’s death in 1968. Decades later, his wife completed and released the fourth unfinished book, Titus Awakes, in 2009. It’s considered one of the finest fantasy series of the past century, with some calling it underappreciated when compared to more popular authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien.
Gaiman is currently working on the second season of American Gods (also a FremantleMedia project), the Good Omens miniseries, and a lot of other projects. We wonder when he sleeps.