Benedict Cumberbatch can’t stay away from TV for long. Fresh off of a three-part return to BBC favorite Sherlock and news of a PBS telepic, the Oscar-nominated actor is teaming with Showtime for a five-part limited series.
Cumberbatch will star in and executive produce Melrose, a mini based on the fictional works of author and journalist Edward St. Aubyn. He’ll play the titular character, Patrick Melrose, whose been the focus of five novels — including the the 2006 Man Booker Prize-winning Mother’s Milk.
It’s another international matchup for Showtime. The stateside pay cable network is producing the series with Sky Atlantic, a second collaboration after the upcoming John Ridley and Idris Elba effort Guerrilla. One Day author and screenwriter David Nicholls is set to adapt all five installments, with each episode focusing on a different one of St. Aubyn’s Melrose books. The character is described as an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy struggling with considerable parent issues.
Showtime Networks CEO and president David Nevins announced the news on Tuesday, further cementing his clearly vested interest in the limited series space. In addition to Guerrilla, the network also has its sprawling one-off Twin Peaks revival and is developing another mini about Muhammad Ali’s landmark 1967 summit of black athletes to protest the Vietnam War draft.
“We are delighted to be part of this incredible series,” said Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland, who will produce under their SunnyMarch shingle. “We have been huge fans of these books for many years, and David Nicholls’ adaptations are extraordinary.”
Word has it that Cumberbatch and company are looking for an auteur-type director to helm each of the five installments, as has been in fashion since Cary Fukunaga’s celebrated work on HBO’s original outing of True Detective. Showtime is already doing that with David Lynch on Twin Peaks and, to a certain extent, Guerrilla (Ridley split directing duty on that project with Luther helmer Sam Miller).
Cumberbatch, whose take on Alan Turing in The Imitation Game earned him an Academy Award nomination in 2015, has four Emmy nominations and one win under his belt for his sporadic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic literary character. He’ll next be seen in Thor: Ragnarok, as he’s now a fixture in the Marvel cinematic universe thanks to his well-received debut as Dr. Strange in the 2016 film of the same name.
He is repped by UTA and Conway Van Gelder Grant and Sloane Offer.