Channel 4 green lights Opposite Number

Company News August 21, 2014

Channel 4 announced today that they have greenlit OPPOSITE NUMBER, an original ten-part North Korean political thriller, for its international drama slate.

Over ten nail-biting, action-packed episodes, Opposite Number takes us inside the closed world of North Korea and explores the charged nexus of relationships between London and Washington as the clock ticks on a global nuclear crisis.

On a covert mission in North Korea, the world’s most secretive nation, a British nuclear scientist is taken prisoner, triggering an international crisis which itself must be kept secret. Realizing their man could be forced to help North Korea finally weaponize its nuclear technology, the British Prime Minister and the U.S. President, two leaders of very different political stripes, must work together and mobilize every level of their governments to pull the world back from the brink…

Opposite Number is written by British playwright and screenwriter Matt Charman (The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder, The Observer for The National Theatre, upcoming BBC series Our Zoo), who recently caught the attention of Hollywood with his first screenplay, a Cold War thriller to be directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. The series is produced by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour, Parade’s End).

Opposite Number is the second commission to come out of Channel 4’s newly formed international drama division. Mammoth Screen and their distribution partner, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, are now seeking an international partner to realise the scale and ambition of the project.

Matt Charman says: “North Korea is one of the last truly impenetrable nations on the planet, and one of the most dangerous for the West. I wanted to write a drama that could blow the lid off our understanding of who we think the North Korean people are and what their government truly wants.”

Beth Willis, Deputy Head of Drama at C4, commented: “Matt Charman has done something extraordinary with this gripping political thriller. Weaving together three very different political systems – it is full of secrets, lies and almost constant tension. Opposite Number is real edge of your seat, addictive stuff and we are incredibly excited about seeing it brought to life by Matt and Mammoth Screen.”

Simon Maxwell, Head of International Drama at C4 said; “Opposite Number is a shining example of the ambition of Channel 4’s move into international drama.  With this slate, we want to work with the brightest and boldest home-grown talents willing to step onto the world stage and tell stories of global relevance, with all the distinct qualities of a Channel 4 drama. We look forward to finding an international partner to share that vision.”  

Damien Timmer, Joint Managing Director, Mammoth Screen, added; “Mammoth Screen is delighted to be working with Channel 4 and Matt Charman, one of Britain’s leading writing talents, on this bold and provocative new series. Opposite Number is a thrill ride which taps into some of our deepest fears about international security and scratches away at the special relationship between the UK and US. It’s global politics, action and espionage as you’ve never seen before.”

In April this year, Channel 4 outlined its commitment to invest in international drama co-productions as part of a new strategy, boosting the company’s ambitions for original drama. New co-production collaborations with both international and UK partners will sit alongside Channel 4’s award-winning range of bold, original home-grown drama commissions. The new co-production slate will bring international talent and their stories to Channel 4 and will also give British writers, directors and producers an international platform.

Opposite Number (10 x 60’) will be made by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour, Parade’s End). Executive producers are Matt Charman, and Rebecca Keane, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen. The series has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Beth Willis and Simon Maxwell for the newly formed international drama division. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is seeking co-production partners and will be distributing the series internationally.