By Travis Johnson

Playground Entertainment are known for producing polished, high-brow adaptations like Little Women and Howard’s End. Now, the production house is staying literary but loosening up a bit with the news that they’ve picked up the rights to Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles, the 2011 book by noted film critic, broadcaster, and author Kim Newman.

Presented as a kind of darkly comic mirror to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, the book collects the adventures of Holmes’ nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, “the Napoleon of Crime”, as narrated by his right hand man, Colonel Sebastian “Basher” Moran. According to Deadline, the series – which Newman notes is long form, not a mini – “…tells the story of the wily, snake-like and fiercely intelligent criminal mastermind Moriarty and the violent, politically incorrect, debauched Moran, who run crime in London, owning police and other criminals.”

Like many of Newman’s fictional works, including the absolutely bloody fantastic Anno Dracula series, the book is peppered with playful literary, historical, and cinematic allusions (which you can probably tell from the title, to be honest).

This is great news, albeit light on detail – it’s very early days, after all. Hopefully this will get over the line. Not only is The Hound of the D’Urbervilles a cracking read, but the success of this project could open the doors for further Newman screen adaptations – something we’ve been agitating for for yonks (Seriously, go read the Anno Dracula books now).

For those who can’t wait, Newman’s latest work is the BBC series Secrets of Cinema, hosted by Mark Kermode. His criticism appears frequently in Empire, Sight & Sound, and elsewhere.



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