Charlie Higson says his new Sunday evening ITV series, Jekyll And Hyde, will be ‘Downton Abbey with monsters’.
Ratings success story Downton will conclude after six series when the Christmas special screens in December, leaving a hole in the Sunday evening schedule.
Tom Bateman stars as Jekyll and Hyde in the new ITV series (Steve Brown/ITV)
Higson’s Jekyll And Hyde is a retelling of the Victorian Robert Louis Stevenson novel, but traces the fate of Jekyll’s grandson in the 1930s.
Robert Jekyll (Tom Bateman), having been raised by foster parents in Ceylon, is called to London, where he finds out more about his lineage and the monster who lurks inside him: Hyde.
Two shadowy organisations are in pursuit: Tenebrae, an organisation of monsters, and MIO (Military Intelligence Other), a super-secret service.
Richard E Grant stars as Bulstrode and Natalie Gumede as Bella (Steve Brown/ITV)
It turns out the world is stalked by monsters of every variety – and MIO, led by Sir Roger Bulstrode (Richard E Grant), is tasked with suppressing the monsters and keeping them under wraps.
Novelist and star of The Fast Show Charlie, 57, said: “We’re really hoping this is going to be like Downton. It’s going to be Downton Abbey with monsters. We’re set in the Thirties, it’s like a classic traditional period drama, and of course ITV has done all the Marples and the Poirots in that era. But they haven’t done them with men with giant lobster claws, and I think it’s about time.
“It certainly would have livened Downton up a bit. It’s very popular, I’m not dissing Downton, but I’d have watched more of it if it had a guy with a giant lobster claw turning up and smashing everything to pieces.”
Charlie explained that the idea of MIO was partly inspired by current affairs.
He said: “In some ways I was, I suppose, channelling the ideas of all the stuff that (Edward) Snowden exposed, the idea that governments do all this stuff on our behalf. We do these terrible things for you. We get rid of these terrorists and we send them abroad to be killed – and don’t worry because we’re doing it for you. We’re doing it to protect society.
“So that was my idea of MIO, that in order to protect us and for us not to get scared, they will deal with all the nasty things, and they will do it quite ruthlessly… My MIO is very much like a modern government. Their job is to get rid of, in secret, all these things they think they need to get rid of.”
The show’s writer Charlie Higson (Matt Crossick/PA)
Pointing to the idea of the monster within, he said: “That’s a really strong idea, and that’s a very contemporary idea – the idea that monsters aren’t things from elsewhere, they’re not creatures from another planet, they are us. They are what’s inside us… Each generation we create our own new monsters and our own new threats.”
Jekyll And Hyde premieres from Sunday, October 25 at 6.30pm on ITV.