Ben Aaronovitch’s bestselling fantasy series, Rivers of London, is to be adapted for television.
A new partnership will bring together all nine of the novels, plus the accompanying short stories, novellas and graphic novels, for the screen.
Rivers of London is part urban fantasy, part police procedural, centring on detective constable Peter Grant. A newly graduated police officer from London, he is recruited in the first book by wizard and inspector Thomas Nightingale to the Folly, a police unit working on supernatural crimes, after an encounter with a ghost.
The books have consistently featured on bestseller lists, with the most recent two novels – 2022’s Amongst Our Weapons and 2020’s False Value – going straight to No 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.
The TV adaptation will be co-produced by Pure Fiction Television, See-Saw Films and Aaronovitch’s own production company Unnecessary Logo. This is not the first attempt to adapt the series: in 2019 it was announced that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Stolen Picture was going to produce a TV version.
Tom Winchester, founder of Pure Fiction Television, said: “Anybody that loves British fantasy knows the name PC Peter Grant and the world of Rivers of London, where gods and goddesses walk amongst us on the city streets. As a longstanding fan, it is a huge honour to be partnering with Ben to bring his unique blend of contemporary urban fantasy and gripping detective stories to the screen.”
Aaronovitch will be an executive producer, and said he was “confident that together we can produce some ridiculously brilliant television”.
The first book, which gives the Rivers of London series its name, was published in 2011. Reviewing Amongst Our Weapons in the Guardian, Lisa Tuttle said that “Aaronovitch has no peers when it comes to successfully combining the appeal of a down-to-earth police procedural with all-out fantasy”.
Tuttle praised the way he writes of “real places, real history and real problems complicated by the existence of magic, ancient spirits, fairies, ghosts and talking foxes, all dwelling alongside ordinary, clueless humans”. She went on to call his plotting “still satisfyingly inventive” and said “the continuing characters maintain their charm in the ninth novel of a series that began in 2011.”
As well as the Peter Grant novels, Aaronovitch – who began his career as a screenwriter on Doctor Who (Remembrance of the Daleks) – has also written a number of graphic novels and novellas in the series. The October Man, a novella, takes the story to Germany, and introduces Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.
What Abigail Did That Summer is a novella focusing on Peter Grant’s cousin, Abigail Kamara, who was introduced in the main series.
Speaking on the Guardian Books podcast in 2020, Aaronovitch said that his original idea for Rivers of London was a television series called Magic Cops. Deciding to try to write it as prose, he came up with the character of Peter Grant, wrote five pages and knew he “had something hot”.
But Aaronovitch “didn’t know it was going to be so successful,” he told the podcast. “I thought it was going to be a good, solid, mid-list fantasy book.”
Aaronovitch’s work has been translated into 14 languages and sold in excess of five million copies worldwide, and has its own wiki, Follypedia.