It feels like Benedict Cumberbatch is in everything, because he’s constantly taking on new projects on TV and in film. So today, another one: Melrose, a limited 5-part series coming to Showtime where Cumberbatch will star and executive produce. The series is based on the semi-autobiographical novels of Edward St. Aubyn, which skewer the upper class as its protagonist, Patrick Melrose, moves from his abusive upbringing into substance abuse and ultimately recovery. It’s described as a “hilarious” satire but between this description and it being adapted by Far From the Maddening Crowd‘s David Nicholls it makes me think the opposite of that.
Though I haven’t read the Patrick Melrose novels (and the series will spend one episode on each novel in the series, focusing on specific days in Patrick’s life), the project feels a little bit to me like another Cumberbatch miniseries, Parade’s End, which was utterly gorgeous and repressed and devastating.
Outside of Sherlock, the actor recently starred in The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, but his TV roles are fewer now than they used to be. It’ll be a nice change to see him really get the chance to dig into a complicated role over the course of several episodes of Melrose. Showtime describes the series as:
In a tour de force role, Cumberbatch will play Melrose, an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy who struggles to overcome the damage inflicted by a horribly abusive father and the mother who tacitly condoned the behavior. Asked in 2013 if he could play any literary character ever, Cumberbatch shared in a Reddit Q&A that it would be Patrick Melrose. The limited series will be a true television saga, both gripping and humorous from Nicholls’ adaptation, with a dramatic sweep that encompasses the South of France in the 1960s, New York in the 1980s and Britain in the early 2000’s.
David Nicholls adds in the press release,
“I’ve been a huge admirer of Edward St Aubyn’s novels for years, and can’t wait to bring these dark, witty, brilliant books to the screen. Benedict is the perfect Patrick Melrose.”
Melrose will be a co-production between Showtime and Sky Atlantic, and is something a little different for Showtime, which hasn’t invested much into the miniseries game yet (though it has three upcoming projects in that genre: Melrose, Guerrilla, and Twin Peaks‘ third season). Melrose is set to start filming in August.