The Watch is here. But it’s not a version of Ankh-Morpork’s infamous guard that you might have been envisioning when news of a new Discworld show first popped up.
BBC America has dropped the first official pictures from The Watch, an eight-episode series that takes the characters of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch, first introduced in Terry Pratchett’s beloved Guards! Guards! and since went on to star in a series of their own Discworld novels, as they navigate attempting to bring some semblance of law and order to a very lawless and disorderly wonder of a city. But while Discworld might be couched in a more traditional fantasy aesthetic, The Watch looks like a mish-mash of weird, industrial-revolution era history and a more modern sense of style.
The first pictures give us looks at several of the previously-announced cast in action for the first time. Above is Richard Dormer as Sam Vimes, Captain of the titular Watch, and frustrated that Ankh-Morpork’s rules have effectively neutered the City Guard’s ability to fight crime. Alongside him is Marama Corlett as Corporal Angua, one of the Watch’s senior members tasked in the show with taking new recruit Constable Carrot (Adam Hugill, seen with Angua below) under her wing.
You can already see some of the strange intersections of period aesthetic here—Vimes, Angua, and even Carrot, as appropriately dorky as he first looks, all kind of look like extremely chic modern detectives. Gone is the plate armour they’re seen wearing on Discworld book covers, replaced with jackets, ID badges around their necks, and in Angua’s case, some devastatingly smoky eye shadow. But there are interesting period elements woven into those contemporary designs. Under his jacket, Carrot’s got what looks like chainmail and a belted-up tunic, while Vimes’ jacket has got intricate bits of additional padding to give it a more militaristic look.
The clash of old and new becomes even clearer in this picture of Angua and Constable Cheery (above), the Watch’s forensic’s expert. In the books, Cheery is a female dwarf but in the show, Cheery will be presented as non-binary human who was orphaned and raised by dwarves as a child, played by genderfluid actor Jo Eaton-Kent. They’re wearing an extravagant mix of more casual wear akin to the rest of the Watch, but under a leather armoured vest.
Our first look at two major antagonists in the series looks a little more evocative of the traditional fantasy you might have been expecting, however.
Above you can see Sam Adewunmi as Carcer Dun, flanked by guards in bulky armour that’s a cross between platemail and police riot gear, wielding crossbows. Dun is Vimes’ archnemesis in Night Watch, a serial killer adamant of his innocence despite a litany of crimes to his name.
Meanwhile, below you can see Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin. Her role is being expanded for the show—in the books, she eventually becomes romantically intertwined with Vimes and marries him—where she’s being described as a member of the City’s noble classes, who has turned to vigilantism to go after the criminals the Watch no longer has the power to pursue themselves. As you can see here, that vigilantism is, well...fiery.
The Watch is set to hit BBC America and BBC One sometime this year. There is no current news of an Australian release.