ITV has commissioned a three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’s novel, Arthur & George, based on an intriguing series of genuine events in the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Martin Clunes will play the celebrated novelist and physician who created the detective Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle recaptures his zest for life by pursuing and challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice.
It is the case of George Edalji, a hard-working solicitor and the son of Hampshire vicar, Reverend Shapurji Edalji and his wife Charlotte. George has served seven years in Pentonville Prison for allegedly mutilating animals and sending threatening letters, a series of offences which have become known as The Great Wyrley Rippings.
Following the death of his wife, Louisa, Conan Doyle has become a “bore and a sulk” by his own admission. All around him do their best to bolster Arthur from his grief and mourning including his beloved ‘Mam’ who implores him to “sink his teeth into something. If not a book then some new pursuit.”
Set in 1903 in Staffordshire, Hampshire and London with the backdrop of Conan Doyle’s family home, Undershaw, Sir Arthur joins forces with his trusted manservant, Alfred ‘Woody’ Wood with whom he has a very strong bond.
On learning of George’s plight and glimpsing the headlines concerning the Great Wyrley Rippings, Conan Doyle urges Woody to arrange a meeting with George, who now at 27 is in “a state of limbo” and struggling to return to his career as “until the taint is washed from his name.”
Arthur & George also features Conan Doyle’s relationship with Jean Leckie, a much younger woman, with whom he enjoyed a ‘platonic’ relationship whilst his wife was alive. Jean eventually became his second wife.
Written by Ed Whitmore (Silent Witness, Waking The Dead, He Kills Coppers), the three part drama will go into production during the autumn of 2014 and will be filmed in Greater London and Staffordshire.