There are already two films of Mary Norton‘s fantasy novel, The Borrowers, including an animated Studio Ghibli production that will be getting its UK and US releases over the next few months, and a beautifully designed live action telling from Peter Hewitt. There was a very popular BBC series too, which pretty much nailed every basic obligation of light, Sunday afternoon viewing.
Norton’s original tale is a rather sweet story about a family of tiny people living under the floorboards of a house designated for demolition. This means they must involve themselves directly in the world of man-sized-men in order to save their home.
Appearing on the Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode show yesterday afternoon, Stephen Fry revealed that he will soon commence work on new screen version of the story. Pressed for details, there wasn’t a terrible amount that he’d allow:
Before [The Hobbit] in fact I go to South Africa… Working Title are doing The Borrowers. I was very surprised to get this script because I remember they did The Borrowers not that long ago… I thought “Oh, that’s odd” but I read the script and thought it was delightful and I had a really funny part… that starts in a few weeks.
Fry would not name the screenwriter, but it’s not so secret I couldn’t dig up a name. This new adaptation has been written by Danny Brocklehurst, a writer for Shameless and Clocking Off, and the creator of BBC’s postman drama, Sorted. Most recently he wrote Exile, which has played just this last month on UK TV.
This new Borrowers adaptation is, Wikipedia says, for Working Title TV and not their theatrical arm. I also read there that it will be a “modernised” telling. Meanwhile, Brocklehurst’s resume tells us this Borrowers adaptation will not be a series, but a “single film.”
There’s surprisingly little word of the project about, but Google did lead me to a recent “Casting Update” from The Television Workshop. It reports:
THE BORROWERS (Working Title) Aisling Loftus flies out to South Africa to play Arietty.
Aisling Loftus is probably best known for her appearance the BBC drama, Dive. Starring as Arietty, the daughter of the family of four-inch tall Borrowers, and protagonist of the story, is probably going to boost her profile somewhat.
What I want to know now is why production is taking place in South Africa. Anybody got any ideas?
Footnote: Fry also revealed on the same show that, for the moment at least, his Dambusters screenplay is referring to the dog as Digger. I think it’s for the best.