Ben Aaronovitch’s hit fantasy series Rivers of London is set to be adapted for television.
A new partnership will bring all nine novels, along with their accompanying short stories, novels and graphic novels, together for the screen.
Rivers of London is part urban fantasy, police procedural, centered on detective Peter Grant. A freshly graduated policeman from London, he is recruited in the first book by sorcerer and Inspector Thomas Nightingale to Madness, a police unit working on supernatural crimes, after an encounter with a ghost.
The books have consistently been on bestseller lists, with the two most recent novels – Among Our Weapons from 2022 and False Value from 2020 – going straight to No. 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.
The television adaptation will be co-produced by Pure Fiction Television, See-Saw Films and Aaronovitch’s own production company, Unnecessary Logo. It’s not the first attempt at adapting the series: in 2019, it was announced that Stolen Picture by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would produce a TV version.
Tom Winchester, Founder of Pure Fiction Television, said: “Anyone who loves British fantasy knows the name PC Peter Grant and the world of Rivers of London, where gods and goddesses walk among us through the city streets. As a lifelong fan, it’s a huge honor to partner with Ben in bringing his unique blend of contemporary urban fantasy and gripping crime stories to the screen.
Aaronovitch will serve as executive producer and said he was “confident that together we can produce ridiculously brilliant television”.
The first book, which gives its name to the Rivers of London series, was published in 2011. Reviewing Among Our Weapons in the Guardian, Lisa Tuttle said that “Aaronovitch has no equal when it comes to is about successfully combining the allure of down-to-earth police procedurals with total fantasy”.
Tuttle praised her writing about “real places, real history and real issues complicated by the existence of magic, ancient spirits, fairies, ghosts and talking foxes, all living alongside ordinary, ignorant humans”. She went on to call its plot “still satisfyingly inventive” and said that “the continuing characters retain their charm in the ninth novel in a series that began in 2011”.
Apart from Peter Grant’s 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 for the series. The October Man, a short story, takes the story to Germany and introduces Tobias Winter, an investigator from the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police that deals with the supernatural.
What Abigail Did That Summer is a short story centered 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 brainchild for Rivers of London was a TV series called Magic Cops. Deciding to try to write it in prose, he imagined 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 would be a good, solid, mid-list fantasy book.”
Aaronovitch’s work has been translated into 14 languages and sold over five million copies worldwide, and has its own wiki, Follypedia.