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Emma Thompson developing Harrow's Alley with HBO

Saving Mr Banks

Story by Jack Foley

EMMA Thompson is developing period horror thriller Harrow’s Alley for the small screen.

According to Deadline, the British actress has partnered with His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf to develop it for the small screen, with the project now set up at HBO.

The original script was written by Walter Newman, who was nominated for three Oscars – 1951’s Ace In The Hole, 1965’s Cat Ballou and 1978’s Bloodbrothers – in the 1960s but never managed to make it to screen owing to its dark subject matter and big-budget requirements.

Set during the black plague in the 17th Century, Harrow’s Alley follows an English town as it deteriorates. The story focuses on the fortunes of two men: likeable but lawless rogue Ratsey and well-meaning alderman Harry, who are both trying to survive the dangers of the time.

Newman described Harrow’s Alley as the ‘high point of my professional life, a creative frenzy for nearly 12 wonderful months’.

Newman actually balked at the idea of seeing the story ‘reduced’ to the small screen, feeling it deserved a cinematic release. But he was never able to get a film off the ground despite the likes of George C Scott and Rex Harrison being involved at various points.

Thompson, however, could be the woman to find a way, even though she has previously unsuccessfully attempted to make it as a feature with Miramax.

The actress has a number of A-list writing credits to her name, including Bridget Jones’ Baby, Nanny McPhee and HBO’s Wit, which she co-wrote with Mike Nichols. And with HBO on board, don’t bet against progress being made.

According to the Deadline report, Bad Wolf, which is backed by HBO and UK’s Sky (along with Len Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment), is in the ‘very early stages’ of development with the project.