‘Let the hunt for Rupert Campbell-Black commence!’ Disney+ to bring iconic Jilly Cooper novel to life

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  • The hunt for Rupert Campbell-Black is on as Disney+ reveals it will be bringing the iconic Jilly Cooper novel Rivals to life in a new eight-part series.

    Rivals is the second in Jilly’s hugely popular Rutshire Chronicles series, featuring many of the same much loved – and affectionately loathed – characters readers first met in Riders.

    Rupert Campbell-Black, retired from his Olympic showjumping career and now Tory minister for sport, is back as the story dives into the cut-throat world of independent television in the 1980s, “where the shoulder pads are big and ambitions even bigger”.

    “As tensions rise and rivalries deepen, there are spilled secrets, forged alliances, and snatched liaisons that draw wives, lovers, colleagues, friends and families into their battle,” bills the Disney+ announcement.

    Jilly, who is an executive producer on the new series, said she is “so, so excited”.

    “Throughout my childhood, my favourite word was ‘Disney’, and by a miraculous coincidence, greater-than-ever Disney are joining forces with an utterly brilliant drama company, Happy Prince, to turn my novel into a TV series,” she said.

    “I know they will bring the boardroom battles and love triangles of my characters to life – particularly those of my devastatingly handsome hero. I cannot wait to see who will be stepping into his shoes…let the hunt for our Rupert Campbell-Black commence!”

    The series will be written by Dominic Treadwell-Collins with Olivier Award-winner Laura Wade, whose credits include The Riot Club.

    “I have been wooing Jilly Cooper since I first started working in television,” said Mr Treadwell-Collins.

    “Jilly’s iconic novels’ razor-sharp observations on class, sex, love and what it means to be British resonate even more today than when Jilly wrote them in the 1980s.

    “I’m so excited to bring Rivals to the screen, entertain fans of the beloved Cooperverse and introduce a whole new generation to the sweeping love stories, social satire and biting wit of Rutshire.”

    BAFTA-nominated Elliot Hegarty, whose credits include Ted Lasso, Cheaters and Trying, is named as lead director, and Eliza Mellor, whose CV features The Midwich Cuckoos, Behind Her Eyes and Poldark, serves as series producer.

    The executive producers are Dominic Treadwell-Collins and Alexander Lamb for Happy Prince, which is part of ITV Studios, Felicity Blunt, Laura Wade, Jilly Cooper and director of scripted content for Disney+ EMEA, Lee Mason.

    Mr Mason said that the combination of Jilly Cooper and Disney+ is “delightfully unexpected”.

    “We were thrilled when Dominic brought us these iconic books, and we leapt at the chance to bring them to life. We can’t wait to welcome Rupert Campbell-Black and the residents of Rutshire to the platform,” he said.

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