Meanwhile, on the other side of the island….

While Island Pictures’ co-founder, Dominic Minghella, is busy showrunning a new 10-part drama series, KNIGHTFALL, for A&E Studios/History in the USA and the Czech Republic, it’s business as usual in London.

Sarah Beardsall, Nancy Gryspeerdt and the team are developing our slate of television and film projects with writers in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Please direct any KNIGHTFALL enquiries via A&E Studios in LA. Thank you.

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Principal photography began this week on Island Pictures’ lavish period adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel, The Scapegoat.

Acclaimed star of hit US series Brothers and Sisters MATTHEW RHYS, will play the double roles of John Standing and Johnny Spence and award winning British actress EILEEN ATKINS (Gosford Park, Doc Martin, Cranford) will play his mother Lady Spence.

They are joined by SHERIDAN SMITH (Gavin and Stacey, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps), JODHI MAY (The Other Boleyn Girl, Emma), ANDREW SCOTT (Sherlock, Band of Brothers), ANTON LESSER (The Hour, Garrow’s Law), PIP TORRENS, JULIAN WADHAM, PHOEBE NICHOLLS, newcomer ALICE ORR EWING and a very special appearance from acclaimed French star of stage and screen SYLVIE TESTUD (La Vie en Rose, The Vanishing Point).

The film is written and directed by Charles Sturridge and will be produced by Sarah Beardsall and Dominic Minghella’s production company, Island Pictures.

Set in 1952, as England prepares for the coronation, The Scapegoat tells the story of two very different men, John Standing and Johnny Spence, who have one thing in common – a face. Almost exact replicas of each other they meet by chance in a station bar, each at a crossroads in their life, one setting out on a walking tour after losing his job as a teacher; the other avoiding home after a disastrous business venture.

The charming and charismatic Johnny wines and dines his new acquaintance but when John wakes the next morning he is alone and a chauffeur is standing outside his room, waiting to take him ‘home’. Despite his protests he finds himself sucked irresistibly into another man’s life.

Stepping literally into his double’s shoes, inexperienced schoolmaster is suddenly responsible for a crumbling stately home, a failing business and a dog who doesn’t recognise him. Literally Lord of all he surveys, he is master of nothing and for the first time in his life, he has to deal with women, including a distraught wife, a drug taking mother, a sister who despises him, an eccentric daughter – and two mistresses one of whom happens to be married to his younger brother.

Although he tries at first to escape John finds himself increasing attracted to this disparate and dysfunctional group of women and slowly his presence starts to alter the chemistry of the household. Just as he seems to be making progress however two things happen: John finds himself falling in love and his nemesis Johnny returns with evil intent. Filled with du Maurier’s trademark elements of suspense, dark humor and unexpected twists the Scapegoat is a brilliant story in the tradition of the writer of Don’t Look Now, Rebecca and The Birds.

Sarah Beardsall and Dominic Minghella (Doc Martin, Robin Hood) will produce The Scapegoat for Island Pictures. Multi-award-winning British film and television director Charles Sturridge (Handful of Dust, Shackleton, The Road to Coronation Street) directs and has also written the screenplay.

The Scapegoat has been commissioned for ITV1 by Drama commissioning team Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes.

“We’re delighted to be bringing The Scapegoat to ITV1. It’s a terrific, suspenseful script featuring characters with sinister motivations and dark secrets. We’ve wanted to adapt a Daphne du Maurier novel for some time and we’re thrilled we now have this opportunity with The Scapegoat,” said Laura.

Added Sarah Beardsall: “The Scapegoat will take viewers on a suspenseful journey with the character of John, from friendless anonymity, to the glamour of the big house, and then to the dark reality behind it. Our ambition is to do cinematic justice to the du Maurier brand, and the very particular world that she has created. The main roles of identical ‘twins’ – so different in personality and experience – are a gift for an actor, and we’re hugely excited to have Matthew playing the parts. Coupled with a fantastic script, laced with du Maurier’s famous – and timeless – dark humour, we’re confident the film will be well received by audiences of both small and big screen.“

“It is a daunting challenge to follow in the footsteps of Hitchcock and Roeg in adapting this thrilling and provocative writer for the screen. I loved the story from the moment I first read it and the extraordinary mix of brilliant characters surrounding these mirror image men,” said director and adapter Sturridge.

The Scapegoat will be released for cinema audiences following its screening on ITV1. International theatrical distribution will be handled by Content Film. The film is shooting on location in and around London.

Publicity – Franklin Rae: +44 20 7490 4050 – ITV: +44 161 952 6220 – International distribution: Content Film +1 310 576 1059

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Note to Editors:

The Scapegoat has been adapted once for screen before. The 1958 version starred Alec Guinness and Bette Davis, and was written by Robert Hamer and Gore Vidal.

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We’re delighted to announce that Island Pictures has gone into production on The Scapegoat, an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1957 novel. The feature film will premiere on ITV 1 in April 2012, followed by a worldwide theatrical distribution to be managed by Content Media Corporation.

ITV and Content Film, Content Television and Digital have provided financial backing for the film, a psychological thriller about a man who meets his perfect double and takes over his life. When John, a single, lonely academic meets his rich doppelganger Johnny Spence, his life changes forever. Manoeuvred into changing places with Johnny, John finds himself living the high-life in the ‘big house’, complete with wife and family. But Johnny’s life is more complex and troubled than John could have imagined – the relationships are fraught and often illicit, and Johnny’s finances are in desperate crisis. Everyone’s looking to Johnny to save the day, but only John knows that Johnny is not here. Or is he? As John lifts the lid on more and more of his counterpart’s unedifying life, the man himself returns… with murder in mind.

The film stars Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys, best known for his role as Kevin Walker in long-running US drama Brothers and Sisters, and Eileen Atkins (Cranford, Gosford Park, Cold Mountain. The screenplay has been written by Charles Sturridge, who will also direct the film. A highly-acclaimed British film and television director, Sturridge directed and co-wrote the world-famous version of Brideshead Revisited, and over the past 30 years he has written and directed a string of award winning productions including Shackleton, A Handful of Dust and The Road To Coronation Street.

The film will shoot on location in London in November 2011. It will be produced by Sarah Beardsall (casting: The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Parent Trap) and Dominic Minghella (Robin Hood, Doc Martin).

Publicity – Franklin Rae: +44 20 7490 4050 – ITV: +44 161 952 6220 – International distribution: Content Film +1 310 576 1059

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