ITV is adapting Julian Barnes’s novel, Arthur & George, based on an intriguing series of genuine events in the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and starring Martin Clunes.
Martin will play the celebrated novelist and physician who created the detective Sherlock Holmes.
“Arthur & George explores what we think we know about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life. It’s a fascinating insight into the man who was to become one of the most famous of his age,” said ITV’s director fo drama Steve November.
“We’re delighted to be working with Martin and the production team at Buffalo Pictures on such a clever and complex adaptation of Julian Barnes’s acclaimed novel.”
In the novel, Conan Doyle recaptures his zest for life by challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice, the case of George Edalji, a hard-working solicitor and the son of Hampshire vicar. George has served seven years in Pentonville Prison for allegedly mutilating animals and sending threatening letters, a series of offences which became known as The Great Wyrley Rippings.
Following the death of his wife, Louisa, Conan Doyle has become a ‘bore and a sulk’ by his own admission. All around him do their best to bolster Arthur from his grief and mourning including his beloved ‘Mam’ who implores him to ‘sink his teeth into something. If not a book then some new pursuit’.
Set in 1903 in Staffordshire, Hampshire and London with the backdrop of Conan Doyle’s family home, Undershaw, Sir Arthur joins forces with his trusted manservant, Alfred ‘Woody’ Wood with whom he has a very strong bond. On learning of George’s plight, Conan Doyle urges Woody to arrange a meeting with George, who now at 27 is in ‘a state of limbo’ and struggling to return to his career as ‘until the taint is washed from his name’.
Arthur & George also features Conan Doyle’s relationship with Jean Leckie, a much younger woman, with whom he enjoyed a ‘platonic’ relationship while his wife was alive. Jean eventually became his second wife.
Arthur & George, a three-part drama, will go into production this autumn and will be filmed in greater London and Staffordshire.