As 10-part drama Jekyll and Hyde heads to ITV from Sunday 25 October, creator Charlie Higson reveals an unusual pitch that made the whole project a reality…
“I must confess that this series happened almost by accident,” Charlie Higson admits to MyM magazine in issue 43, which is out in shops today. “They told me they were looking for something that had elements of action, adventure, horror, romance and a bit of humour – all things that are right up my street – but I had to explain that I was very busy and hadn’t really been thinking of ideas in this area. Only a fool would walk out on a broadcaster who wanted you to write something for them, however, so I asked them to explain more, just in case I had anything that might fit the bill in the future.
“They ideally wanted something that was a recognisable name so there would be some inbuilt recognition, but it had to be an idea that you could do something completely new and different with, something quintessentially British, that could perhaps be done as a period piece. Trying to make sense of this I said in passing, ‘So, something like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?’ At which point a boulder was set rolling that hasn’t stopped since.”
Ticking all of those boxes with such a well-known character should have made life easy, but ITV needed the idea fleshed out as quickly as possible. As this dark duo hold the honour of being the third most-filmed characters ever, the writer, star of The Fast Show and celebrated novelist (Young Bond, The Enemy) recognised he had a problem.
“So I had a commission. But how do you do something new with a story that has been told so many times, in so many different ways, with a character who is so well known and, let’s face it, so parodied? So, the first thing I did was read the book. Yes, that’s right, I had accidentally pitched a remake of a book that I’d never actually read!”
Read the full interview with Charlie Higson and stars Tom Bateman, Richard E Grant, Natalie Gumede and Stephanie Hyam in Issue 43 of MyM magazine. MyM is available at all good newsagents including WHSmith and many independents. Click this link to find your nearest MyM stockist by postcode or click here to subscribe.