DOWNTON Gone Ghastly

97803124299669781250023902Benedict Cumberbatch will star, reports Deadline Hollywoodin a new five-episode limited series for Showtime called Melrose, based on a series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk, and At Last.

David Nicholls, author of the best seller One Day and screenwriter for the subsequent film, is writing the adaptations and Cumberbatch will executive produce.

Each episode will be based on one of the novels which The Atlantic has called “short, remarkably compressed … (most take place in just 24 hours or so).” The 2014 roundup review begins with a summary that Hollywood could lift, “Imagine a family like the Downton Abbey clan gone bad.”

The novels chronicle the horribly abusive life of aristocrat Patrick Melrose, a drug addict who endured a tortuous childhood. The Atlantic says they are “both harrowing and … hilarious … St. Aubyn has a cut-glass prose style, a gift for unexpected metaphor, and a skewering eye.”

“Although reviewers liken Edward St. Aubyn to Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde,” writes The New Yorker‘s esteemed critic James Woods, “he is a colder, more savage writer than either … his fiction reads like a shriek of filial hatred; most of the posh English who people his novels are virulently repellent … [the books have] an aristocratic atmosphere of tart horror, the hideousness of the material contained by a powerfully aphoristic, lucid prose style.”

The collected volume of the first four books, The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk (Macmillan/Picador; OverDrive Sample), spent three weeks on the extended NYT paperback list. The fifth novel, At Last (Macmillan/Picador; OverDrive Sample) hit the LA Times list, peaking at #16.

Cumberbatch has long wanted to play the role according to Deadline. In 2013 he listed Melrose as the answer to an online Q&A session about the role he would most like to play.

As we noted earlier, Cumberbatch has another adaptation in the pipeline. He will also star in and serve as EP for a TV version of Ian McEwan’s The Child In Time.

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