Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

HBO mini-series to be set in Eighties Northern Ireland

Can Troubles drama ape the success of Harry's Game?

Blast from past: Harry's Game was a TV hit in the 80s

Hollywood's next blockbuster television series is to be set in Eighties Northern Ireland.

The as-yet un-named multi-million-dollar epic, from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes director Rupert Wyatt, will tell the story of an Army undercover agent infiltrating the Provisional IRA.

It is believed to have been inspired by the success of Troubles-based mini-series Harry's Game, which told a similar story and became a television phenomenon back in 1982.

English director Wyatt, whose re-imagining of The Planet Of The Apes story has become one of the year's highest grossing movies, is expected to start filming the new series early next year, with many scenes to be shot in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland.

It is being financed by Hollywood giants HBO and will be broadcast in the UK on satellite channel Sky Atlantic.

Although comparisons with Harry's Game will be inevitable, Wyatt said: “The idea is actually based on a true story.

“It's about the British spies who infiltrated the Provos in the early Eighties.

“I think it will work better as a television series rather than a film because the whole idea is so dense storywise.

“It's all about a man who basically gives up his identity to go into this Troubles netherworld.

“Then he finds himself adrift and has to rediscover his identity.”

He added: “It's a terrific story, but one that requires a lot of time to tell. The idea, therefore, is to make a mini-series of three 90-minute episodes.”

The new series will be produced by Dubliner Alan Moloney, who worked on Wyatt's first big movie, The Escapist, but is perhaps best known as the executive producer of the renowned Wicklow-based BBC series Ballykissangel, which ran for five years between 1996 and 2001.

No details about the potential cast have been released. HBO are of course no strangers to Northern Ireland courtesy of Game Of Thrones, the epic fantasy now in its second series.

Many scenes from the drama, based on books of George R.R Martin, were shot in the province, and the American film-makers used hundreds of Ulster-based cast and crew.

Background

Harry's Game was made by Yorkshire Television and was based on the novel by Gerald Seymour, the former ITN reporter who worked in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles in the early Seventies. It was filmed in Leeds and Belfast and starred Ray Lonnen as Captain Harry Brown, sent undercover to arrest IRA gunman Billy Downes (Derek Thompson).

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