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Free@Last options detective series

Agatha Raisin producer Free@Last TV has optioned the script and rights to a detective series written by Brendan Foley.

Set in 1920s Ireland, Scotland and England, Inspector French follows a world-class detective banished from Scotland Yard to post-partition Northern Ireland, where he tries to introduce modern policing techniques to a reluctant force.

The character was Agatha Christie’s favourite fictional detective, according to Free@Last TV, and was created by her friend Freeman Wills Crofts, who wrote more than 20 crime bestsellers in the interwar era.

The script was initially developed with BBC Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen, courtesy of Farmoor, the Endemol-Shine owned business that helps UK producers set up international drama coproductions.

Foley (Cold Courage, The Riddle), who unearthed the rights to Crofts’ books at the Society of Authors, described the series as “if Peaky Blinders invaded Downton Abbey.”

“The backdrop to Inspector French’s investigations are the great houses and factories of the industrialists as well as the mean streets of Belfast and the country estates of the fading aristocracy,” added Foley.

Free@Last TV MD Barry Ryan said: “The series is crammed with interesting characters, none more so than the inspector himself, who hides secrets of his own even as he cracks cases. That, together with the really extensive IP of more than 20 bestsellers, is a great base to build on.”

Ryan added that the company would be opening discussions with distributors over the coming weeks. Free@Last TV has been an independent TV production company since 2000 and is currently shooting the third season of Agatha Raisin, which stars Ashely Jensen and is adapted from the novels by MC Beaton.


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