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Blink49, Eleven adapting ML Rio’s thriller novel If We Were Villains for TV

Canada’s Blink49 Studios is partnering with UK prodco Eleven to adapt ML Rio’s novel If We Were Villains for television.

ML Rio

The thriller has sold more than 180,000 copies globally in English since its release in 2017 and has also been translated into more than a dozen other languages.

The story follows seven young Shakespearean actors at an elite college where competition is fierce and the line between life and art is hard to distinguish. When one of the actors is found dead, the remaining six must persuade the police, and each other, that they are blameless.

The TV adaptation will be coproduced by Fifth Season-backed Blink49 Studios and Sex Education producer Eleven, which is backed by Sony Pictures Television.

Rio executive produces alongside Jamie Campbell and Jennifer Pick of Eleven, Carolyn Newman and Virginia Rankin of Blink49 Studios, Christopher Maring of CM Stage Productions, Andrew Williamson, Henrik Meyer and Enuka Okuma.

Eleven is currently producing several new dramas, including Ten Pound Poms for the BBC, Sony and Australia’s Stan. The project stars Michelle Keegan, Warren Brown and Faye Marsay and follows British families who travel to Australia in 1956 to begin new lives under the Oz government’s immigration scheme at the time.

Toronto-based Blink49, led by former Entertainment One TV chief John Morayniss, officially launched less than a year ago. The company has hit the ground running with several greenlights, including multi-generational drama Ride for Hallmark Channel in the US and Sight Unseen for Bell Media-owned Canadian network CTV, in addition to a slew of talent deals.

Washington-based author Rio is represented by Sugar23 and the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.


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