‘Anansi Boys’: Amazon Orders Adaptation Of Neil Gaiman’s International Best-Selling Novel

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21 Jul 21

‘Anansi Boys’: Amazon Orders Adaptation Of Neil Gaiman’s International Best-Selling Novel

Amazon has added another Neil Gaiman adaptation to its line-up as they commission Anansi Boys, based on the international best-selling novel as a six-part limited series.

Based on Gaiman’s novel of the same name, ‘Anansi Boys’ follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.

‘Anansi Boys’ is a stand-alone story, not a sequel or spin-off of Gaiman’s novel American Gods. The book’s story was originally developed in conversation between Gaiman and British icon Sir Lenny Henry, with the series adaptation reuniting the collaboration between the pair.

Gaiman is set to write the drama alongside Henry. Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori will also write on the series. Gaiman and Douglas Mackinnon (‘Good Omens’, ‘Line Of Duty’, ‘Knightfall’) serve as co-showrunners. Hanelle M. Culpepper (‘Star Trek: Picard’, ‘Memories of Ptolemy Grey’) will direct the pilot, with Jermain Julien (‘Grantchester’) and Azhur Saleem (‘Doctor Who’) also directing for the series. Paul Frift will produce, with Gaiman, Henry, Mackinnon, Culpepper, Hilary Bevan Jones (Endor Productions) and Richard Fee (Red Production Company) exec producing.

“Anansi Boys began around 1996, from a conversation I had with Lenny Henry about writing a story that was diverse and part of the culture that we both loved,” commented Gaiman. “I wrote a novel, an (I hope) joyous and funny book about a dead god and his two sons, about birds and ghosts and beasts and cops, based in Caribbean and African tales. It was my first number one NYT Bestseller and went on to become a beloved and award-winning book. Anansi Boys as a TV series has been a long time coming – I first started working with Endor and Red on making it over a decade ago. We needed Amazon Prime to come on board and embrace our vision, we needed a lead director with the craft and vision of Hanelle Culpepper, we needed the creative and technical wizardry of Douglas Mackinnon (who worked out how we could push the bounds of the possible to shoot a story set all over the world in a huge studio outside Edinburgh), and we needed the rest of the amazing talents that nobody knows about yet. I am thrilled that Sir Lenny Henry is one of our executive producers. He was there when it was conceived, he narrated the audiobook and he has kept the heart of the production true. We are trying to make a new kind of show with Anansi Boys, and to break ground with it to make something that celebrates and rejoices in diversity both in front of and behind the camera. I’m so thrilled it’s happening and that people will be meeting Mr. Nancy, Charlie and Spider, the Bird Woman and the rest of them.”

“Sir Len” is probably best known as a comedian, actor and co-founder of Comic Relief, although he has recently turned his talents towards writing, with ITV having picked up the drama ‘Three Little Birds’ last December, written by Henry. Along with helping to develop ‘Anansi Boys’, he previous narrated the audiobook. On the acting front, he was one of the multitudes of people announced as joining the cast of Amazon’s upcoming ‘Lord Of The Rings’ series.

“I’ve been a huge fan (and couch sleeping friend) of Neil Gaiman’s for over 30 years and I have loved being a part of the Anansi Boys creative team,” adds Sir Lenny. “I love that we’re going to have a suitably diverse cast and crew to tell this joyous story! What’s great is that the whole production is listening and ensuring that inclusion is happening and is being seen to be done.”

Whilst the press release doesn’t mention the studio in Scotland by name, we presume they are talking about First Stage Studios, the massive new facility built just outside Edinburgh with over 80,000sq ft of shooting space. The former wave power plant in Leith Docks was previously used to film ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, but has now been turned into a fully functioning film and tv studio.

“I’m thrilled that we get to take the story of Anansi Boys from page to screen with the creative powers of Neil and Lenny, as well as an extraordinary group of other writers, directors, and a cast and crew of so many diverse perspectives alongside us,” commented co-showrunner Douglas Mackinnon, who previously worked with Gaiman on ‘Good Omens’. “We’ll be shooting in brand new studios in Scotland where we’ll have the most cutting-edge CGI technology in the world to make all the magic and wonder of Anansi Boys come to life.”

“There’s nothing quite like Anansi Boys – a compelling and contemporary story wrapped in unique and powerful mythology from the Black diaspora,” adds director Hanelle M. Culpepper. “I’m both excited and honoured to be working with legends like Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, along with the rest of the incredible Anansi team, using new technology and new studios to create a great show in ways that couldn’t have been done before now. This is a dream project for me as a director.”

The show is produced by Amazon Studios, The Blank Corporation, Endor Productions, and RED Production Company. With this announcement, Amazon Studios continues its relationship with Gaiman, who has an overall deal with the studio.

We don’t know exactly when ‘Anansi Boys‘ will premiere on Amazon Prime Video, but if you want to keep track of this or any other shows, you can add them via our Never Miss system, and you’ll be notified when they get a UK premiere date.