Press release for Mark Billingham’s SLEEPYHEAD

We first reported this last November, but here is the official press release for the upcoming television adaptation of Mark Billingham’s SLEEPYHEAD.

Sky1 today (Tuesday 2 March, 2010) announced the start of production on thorne: sleepyhead and the commission of thorne: scaredy cat both adaptations of the Mark Billingham best-sellers. Both films will be produced for a UK TV premiere on Sky1 HD and Sky1 before a worldwide theatrical release by ContentFilm. The films were commissioned by Huw Kennair Jones, Commissioning Editor, Drama, Sky1 HD and Sky1 and thorne: sleepyhead will be directed by Emmy® award-winner Stephen Hopkins (24, Californication, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) from scripts adapted by Jim Keeble and Dudi Appleton (Trial & Retribution, Silent Witness).Sky1 will broadcast the films as a six-part drama series in the autumn.

The THORNE series is part of Sky1’s multi-million pound HD drama investment fund. Principal photography commenced on thorne: sleepyhead in London today, with production on thorne: scaredy cat to commence in late April.

BAFTA® nominee David Morrissey (State Of Play, Red Riding, Nowhere Boy) stars in the title role as DI Tom Thorne and heads an all-star cast including Natascha McElhone (Californication, Solaris, The Truman Show), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, Happy Go Lucky, Little Dorrit) and Aidan Gillen (Queer As Folk, The Wire).

Kennair-Jones commented: “We’re really excited to be bringing Mark Billingham’s iconic Tom Thorne to life here on Sky 1 and it’s a testament to the ambitions of the channel that we’ve secured such a fantastic line up both on and off screen. The combination of Mark Billingham, Stephen Hopkins and an amazing cast headed by David Morrissey means that Thorne is going to be a brilliantly original detective series that’ll constantly astound and surprise the audience – it’s going to be incredible.”

David Morrissey added: “I am delighted to be bringing Tom Thorne to the screen. Having been a fan of Mark Billingham’s books for years, it’s a great privilege to be able to play such an exciting character. I’m also chuffed to be reunited with Stephen Hopkins who is one of the best directors I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

Mark Billingham said: “I’m hugely excited to see the books brought to the screen by such an incredible array of talent on both sides of the camera. David Morrissey was always the actor I wanted to play Tom Thorne and the combination of David and the rest of the amazing cast, Stephen Hopkins and the team at Sky is more than any author could ask for.”

Jolyon Symonds, Stagereel Limited, said: “We’re thrilled to commence principal photography on this project – it’s been nearly two years since Mark and David joined forces with Jim & Dudi to start work on Sleepyhead, with the ongoing support of Sky. We’re all delighted with Stephen’s involvement and the level of international casting that we’ve been able to bring to the films. ContentFilm provides us with a genuine international presence so we hope we’ll be creating an enduring franchise.”

thorne: sleepyhead is a nail-biting thriller following DI Tom Thorne’s investigation into a mysterious serial killer. His first three victims ended up dead. His fourth was not so fortunate. Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear and feel, she is aware of everything going on around her, but she is completely unable to move or communicate. It’s called Locked-In Syndrome. In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer’s made his first mistake.

Then D. I. Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth: it isn’t Alison who is the mistake, it’s the three women already dead and Thorne knows that they are unlikely to be the last. For the killer seems to be getting his kicks out of toying with Thorne as much as he is pursuing his sick fantasy. Thorne must find a man whose agenda is terrifyingly unique, and Alison, the one person who holds the key to the killer’s identity, is unable to tell anybody.

thorne: sleepyhead will principally be shot on location in and around London with Whitechapel and Shoreditch providing some key locations.

sleepyhead was the first in a series of novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne. It was first published in the UK by Little Brown in August 2001 and entered the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller list before becoming the biggest selling debut novel of the summer. sleepyhead was published in the US by Harper Collins.

thorne: scaredy cat will see David Morrissey, Eddie Marsan and Aidan Gillen reprising their roles in an adaptation of Billingham’s second DI Tom Thorne thriller, where killing becomes a team sport. The film depicts a vicious, calculated murder. The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube, and strangled her to death in front of her child. At the same time, killed in the same way, a second body is discovered at the back of King’s Cross station. It is a grisly coincidence that eerily echoes the murder of two other women, stabbed to death months before on the same day. Thorne discovers that this is not a single serial killer he’s up against, but two of them.

But whilst the methods might be the same, the manner of the killings is strikingly different and Thorne comes to realise that he is hunting two very different killers. One is ruthless and in control, while his partner in crime is submissive, compliant, terrified.

scaredy cat was first published in the UK by Little Brown in July 2002. It was nominated for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and won the Sherlock Award for best detective created by a UK author.

thorne: sleepyhead and thorne: scaredy cat are both Stagereel / Cité-Amérique co-productions for Sky1 in association with Movie Central, The Movie Network, 87 Films and Artists Studio. The film will be shot on HD CAM-SR for broadcast on Sky1 and Sky1 HD autumn 2010, followed by a worldwide theatrical release. ContentFilm will handle worldwide distribution rights, excluding the UK and Australia.

thorne: sleepyhead and thorne: scaredy cat will be Exec Produced by Huw Kennair Jones, Mark Billingham, Jim Keeble, Dudi Appleton, Paul Morrissey, Stephen Hopkins, Daniel Proulx, Lorraine Richard, Justin Thomson Glover and Patrick Irwin and Greg Dummett is co-producing for Cité-Amérique. Jolyon Symonds is the Producer with Stephen Hopkins directing the first film and executive producing both. The films were adapted for the screen by Jim Keeble and Dudi Appleton

This sounds promising and I hope it rocks! Mark is a hell of a good guy and his books are top notch.