Sid Gentle Films, the production company behind PBS/Masterpiece’s upcoming series “The Durrells in Corfu,” has acquired the rights to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s best-selling series of books “The Cazalet Chronicles.” Sid Gentle Films was founded by award-winning drama producer Sally Woodward Gentle, formerly creative director of “Downton Abbey” production house Carnival Films.
The series of five “Cazalet Chronicles” novels are set between the 1930s and the 50s and chronicle the lives of three generations of the Cazalet family. Sid Gentle Films has acquired the rights to all five books — from “The Light Years” through to the final novel, “All Change,” with the intention of telling the family saga over five seasons.
The deal, negotiated by Woodward Gentle and Howard’s agent Ann Evans at Jonathan Clowes, comes as the novelist’s biography, “Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence” by Artemis Cooper, is about to be published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Woodward Gentle said: “Elizabeth Jane Howard is an extraordinary writer, a highly skilled storyteller of understatement and deceptive simplicity. The novels are totally addictive with the ability to floor you with their turn of events. They are set in the middle of the 20th century but the themes of love, loss, repression, sex and family ties are shot through with 21st century resonance. I am thrilled that Sid Gentle Films has the opportunity to bring this wonderfully epic, family saga to a new generation of drama lovers.”
Woodward Gentle formed Sid Gentle Films in 2013 to produce “original and innovative” television drama and feature films. The indie is in production on the second season of “The Durrells,” a ratings and critical success for the U.K.’s ITV. The series, adapted from Gerald Durrell’s book “My Family and Other Animals,” stars Keeley Hawes. The first six-part season airs on PBS from Sunday. Sid Gentle Films’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Likely Stories” recently aired on U.K. pay-TV network Sky to critical acclaim, and the much-anticipated adaptation of Len Deighton’s epic “SS-GB,” starring Sam Riley and Kate Bosworth, is due for transmission on BBC One next year.
Prior to setting up her company, Woodward Gentle was creative director of Carnival Films, where she was responsible for the production of “Whitechapel,” “Murder on the Home Front,” “The Last Weekend,” BAFTA winner “Any Human Heart” and BAFTA-nominated “Enid.”