Paramount+ Orders ‘The Doll Factory’ Adaptation With ‘Marcella’ Indie Buccaneer Media Attached; Australia’s SBS And New Zealand’s TVNZ Board Historical Thriller

July 21, 2022

By Jesse Whittock, Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount+ is entering The Doll Factory.

The UK wing of the streamer has ordered an adaptation of the Sunday Times bestselling novel, a dark thriller story of obsession centred around a doll painter and her twin sister.

MarcellaCrime and Whistable Pearl indie Buccaneer Media is attached to produce the six-part thriller dramas, which will join the line-up of Paramount+ Originals available on the streaming service for audiences in the UK and Ireland. Sebastian Cardwell, Deputy Chief Content Officer at Paramount UK greenlit the show.

Furthermore, public broadcasters SBS in Australia and New Zealand’s TVNZ have pre-bought the series, which rising writer Charley Miles is adapting from Elizabeth Macneal’s debut novel. Cineflix, which is a partner in Buccaneer, is attached as international distributor.

Set in London in 1850, The Doll Factory tells the story of Iris, who paints dolls for a living alongside her twin sister, Rose, and dreams of becoming an artist and by night secretly paints herself naked. Silas is a taxidermist who owns a shop filled with his creations. He dreams of one day finding an item so unique he will be catapulted to fame. Louis is a painter and member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, searching for his next muse. When Iris meets Silas, and then Louis, she is offered an opportunity to escape and start a new life. To do so, she must abandon her sister, sacrifice her reputation, and launch herself into the unknown. But as Iris’ world expands, a story of dark obsession begins to unfold.

Sacha Polak (Hanna, Dirty God) is on board as director, Suzanne McAuley (Magpie Murders, Maigret) is producer and Julie Harkin (I May Destroy You, Becoming Elizabeth) is casting director.

The Doll Factory combines intrigue with universal themes of passion and obsession to tell a compelling story which will resonate with our Paramount+ audience. We are delighted to work with Buccaneer Media as we continue to build our offering of Paramount+ Originals with UK storytelling talent,” said Paramount UK’s Cardwell.

London-based producer Buccaneer is behind another new Paramount+ commission, The Burning Girls, and NRK’s So Long, Marianne, which explores Leonard Cohen’s relationship with use Marianne Ihlen, as Deadline revealed in April. It is also developing In Memoriam with Miles, with Participant Media co-producing the original drama, and two Irvine Welsh novels: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins and The Blade Artist.

“The combination of debut author Elizabeth Macneal with first time screenwriter Charley Miles is what this company is all about: emergent talent who will take the world by storm,” said Buccaneer co-CEOs said Tony Wood and Richard Tulk-Hart in a statement. “To have SBS and TVNZ join Paramount+ at such an early stage is testament to the incredible writing of Charley. Cineflix also saw the potential of this very early on and after their success with our previous two shows we’re very happy to have them as distribution partners as well.”

“It is the most surreal and wonderful thing to have my novel turned into a TV series,” said Elizabeth Macneal. “When I wrote the book, I felt I knew each character intimately – and what a treat it will be to see them fully brought to life, from Iris’s fire and zest to be a painter, to the taxidermist Silas’s hunger to have his name recognised. I always said I wanted to work with a screenwriter who was able to reimagine my novel in a new way for a new audience, and I am stunned by the wonder that is Charley Miles’s script.

Executive producers are Wood, Anna Burns and Tulk-Hart for Buccaneer, along with Miles and Macneal.

The Doll Factory is the latest UK drama commission for Paramount+ and joins a growing slate from the UK production community which includes A Gentleman in MoscowSexy Beast, The Blue, The Ex-Wife, The Burning Girls and Flatshare.

‘The Doll Factory’ was a bestseller in the Times and The Sunday Times in hardback, and has been translated into 30 languages. Author Macneal is represented by Madeleine Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency.

Paramount+ launched in the UK and Ireland on June 22.