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Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Is Headed to Your Television Screen

“Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.” More wisdom like this is on the way!
Color Of Magic
By  · Published on March 2nd, 2018

“Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.” More wisdom like this is on the way!

First, we get a version of Good Omenswhich seems sure to please. Now, we get something that will definitely catch the eyes of fans of the fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett‘s work. BBC Studios is developing a new series based on Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels. It’ll be co-produced by his production company, Narrativia, now run by Rod Brown, Rhianna Pratchett, and Rob Wilkins. The working title for the project is The Watch.

That title may ring a bell. In 2012, Rhianna Pratchett announced the creation of Narrativia by calling out their first two projects: Good Omens and The Watch.

It may be years later, but get your victory dance ready, because both are now headed our way.

The press release is not specific about which group of “Discworld” characters they’ll show us. However, given the working title of the project, I’d guess we’ll get a six-part series focused on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. That is the police in this “Discworld” city. And it is a mess. Sam Vimes, a shambling, drunken man is Captain of the Night Watch. Through the course of his stories, he reluctantly leads an unruly bunch of societal castoffs in the creation and administration of the police force in Ankh-Morpork.

This project is still not nearly as far along in development as Good Omens. There are no details on whom they might cast in the series. All we know is Simon Allen (Strike Back, The Musketeers, and Sky’s forthcoming reboot of Das Boot) will write it. And that he’ll have plenty of material for inspiration.

Pratchett created the “Discworld” series in 1983 in the first novel “The Colour of Magic.” Over the course of the next 32 years, until his death in 2015, he expanded his world with another 40 novels. They feature different groups of characters, so even if the series doesn’t stick with the Watch, they’ve got oodles of stories from which to choose.

They are all set on Discworld, which is much like our own world, except its geography is a touch different. Their world is a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants who, in turn, stand on the back of a giant space turtle as it travels through space. Pretty close, right? I wonder what our world’s flat-earthers think about the elephants and turtles. Do you think there are ideologically driven, sectarian flame wars over whether the great space turtle is real? I like to think so.

Pratchett created a world of magic thrown into turmoil as it meets the advent of modern technologies. While he used the series to parody fantasy cliches, the joy of the novels is very much rooted in his wry commentary on the absurd things we hold as self-evident.

For example, in “Snuff,” Vimes has the following observation:

Commander Vimes didn’t like the phrase “The innocent have nothing to fear,” believing the innocent had everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like “The innocent have nothing to fear.”

He turns the simplest things into humorous but deep explorations of human psychology. This won’t be the first of Pratchett’s wise comedies to be adapted for the television screen. Sky One previously produced three made-for-tv movies based specifically on “Hogfather,” “The Colour of Magic,” and “Going Postal.”

And be on the lookout for Good Omens. The adaptation of the novel, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, is currently in production for a six-episode series for Amazon Prime. It’s based on a novel co-written by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about an angel and a demon teaming up to avert the apocalypse and quip very dryly whilst doing it. With mixed outcomes on both fronts.

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Writer for Film School Rejects. He currently lives in Virginia, where he is very proud of his three kids, wife, and projector. Co-Dork on the In The Mouth of Dorkness podcast.