Ben Aaronovitch’s bestselling fantasy series Rivers of London is set to be adapted for television.
A new partnership will bring all nine novels and their associated short stories, novellas and graphic novels together for the big screen.
Part urban fantasy, part police procedure, Rivers of London centers on Detective Constable Peter Grant. A newly minted police officer from London, in the first book by wizard and inspector Thomas Nightingale, he is recruited into the Folly, a police unit working on supernatural crimes, after an encounter with a ghost.
The books have consistently appeared on bestseller lists, with the two most recent novels – Amongst Our Weapons in 2022 and False Value in 2020 – going straight to #1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.
The television adaptation is co-produced by Pure Fiction Television, See-Saw Films and Aaronovitch’s own production company, Unnecessary Logo. This isn’t the first attempt to adapt the series: it was revealed in 2019 that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s stolen picture would produce a TV version.
Tom Winchester, founder of Pure Fiction Television, said: “Anyone who loves British fantasy will be familiar with the name of PC Peter Grant and the world of Rivers of London, where gods and goddesses walk the city streets among us. As a long-time fan, it’s a great honor to work with Ben to bring his unique blend of contemporary urban fantasy and compelling detective stories to the big screen.”
Aaronovitch will be executive producer and said he is “confident that together we can produce a ridiculously brilliant television.”
The first book to give the Rivers of London series its name was published in 2011. In her review of Amongst Our Weapons in the Guardian, Lisa Tuttle said that “Aaronovitch is second to none when it comes to combining the allure of an earth-police procedure with all-out imagination”.
Tuttle praised the way he writes about “real places, real history, and real problems complicated by the existence of magic, ancient spirits, fairies, wraiths, and talking foxes, all living alongside ordinary, unsuspecting humans.” She went on to call its storyline “still satisfactorily inventive,” saying “the ongoing characters retain their charm in the ninth novel in a series that began in 2011.”
In addition to 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 short stories in the series. The October Man, a novella, brings the story to Germany and introduces Tobias Winter, an investigator from the KDA department, the department of the German Federal Criminal Police Office that deals with 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 his original idea for Rivers of London was a TV series called Magic Cops. Deciding to write it in prose, he invented the character of Peter Grant, wrote five pages, and knew he “had something hot”.
But Aaronovitch “didn’t know it was going to be this successful,” he told the podcast. “I thought it was going to be a good, solid, mid-range fantasy book.”
Aaronovitch’s work has been translated into 14 languages and has sold over five million copies worldwide and has its own wiki, Follypedia.