Amazon has greenlit a limited series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s bestselling novel Anansi Boys, with Gaiman on board to adapt, executive produce, and serve as a co-showrunner.
The international bestseller is a standalone project which originated during a conversation between Gaiman and Sir Lenny Henry. (Amazon’s official announcement makes a point of confirming the limited series has nothing to do with American Gods.) Henry is joining Gaiman as a writer along with Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori. He’ll also executive produce the six-episode limited series with Douglas Mackinnon, Hanelle M. Culpepper, Endor Productions’ Hilary Bevan Jones, and Red Production Company’s Richard Fee. Mackinnon is Gaiman’s co-showrunner, and Culpepper, Jermain Julien, and Azhur Saleem are attached to direct.
“Anansi Boys began around 1996, from a conversation I had with Lenny Henry about writing a story that was diverse and part of the culture that we both loved,” explained Gaiman. “I wrote a novel, an (I hope) joyous and funny book about a dead god and his two sons, about birds and ghosts and beasts and cops, based in Caribbean and African tales. It was my first number one NYT Bestseller, and went on to become a beloved and award-winning book.
Anansi Boys as a TV series has been a long time coming — I first started working with Endor and Red on making it over a decade ago. We needed Amazon Prime to come on board and embrace our vision, we needed a lead director with the craft and vision of Hanelle Culpepper, we needed the creative and technical wizardry of Douglas Mackinnon (who worked out how we could push the bounds of the possible to shoot a story set all over the world in a huge studio outside Edinburgh), and we needed the rest of the amazing talents that nobody knows about yet.”
Gaiman continued: “I am thrilled that Sir Lenny Henry is one of our executive producers. He was there when it was conceived, he narrated the audiobook and he has kept the heart of the production true. We are trying to make a new kind of show with Anansi Boys, and to break ground with it to make something that celebrates and rejoices in diversity both in front of and behind the camera. I’m so thrilled it’s happening and that people will be meeting Mr. Nancy, Charlie and Spider, the Bird Woman and the rest of them.”
Filming is expected to get underway later this year in Scotland.
“I’ve been a huge fan (and couch sleeping friend) of Neil Gaiman’s for over 30 years and I have loved being a part of the Anansi Boys creative team,” stated Henry. “I love that we’re going to have a suitably diverse cast and crew to tell this joyous story! What’s great is that the whole production is listening and ensuring that inclusion is happening and is being seen to be done.”
The limited series is an Amazon Studios, The Blank Corporation, Endor Productions, and RED Production Company production.
“I’m thrilled that we get to take the story of Anansi Boys from page to screen with the creative powers of Neil and Lenny, as well as an extraordinary group of other writers, directors, and a cast and crew of so many diverse perspectives alongside us,” said Mackinnon. Mackinnon and Neil Gaiman previously collaborated on Amazon’s Good Omens series starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant. “We’ll be shooting in brand new studios in Scotland where we’ll have the most cutting-edge CGI technology in the world to make all the magic and wonder of Anansi Boys come to life.”
The Plot, Courtesy of Amazon:
Based on Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.