Dear England | Netflix had a “more lucrative” offer for the upcoming BBC TV adaptation

joseph fiennes dear england (1)
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A TV adaptation of the National Theatre play Dear England is heading to BBC, who beat Netflix in a bidding war. 

We got a sneak peek at BBC’s upcoming slate of dramas in February. Among those was a TV adaptation of Dear England, the hit play which has been charming football-friendly audiences in the London theatre scene since its debut in June 2023. 

Deadline now reports that Dear England could have very narrowly been a Netflix production instead. There was a fierce bidding war over the rights and according to Deadline, Netflix made a “more lucrative” offer but writer James Graham and Left Bank Pictures chose the BBC instead. 

The outlet also reports that the reason behind Graham and Left Bank’s decision was because the team “view Dear England as a national story that should be told by the UK’s national broadcaster.”

Dear England is a fictionalised narrative of England coach Gareth Southgate and his team as they gear up to three important moments in major tournaments: semifinals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the 2020 European Championship final at Wembley, and their quarterfinal exit from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Joseph Fiennes plays Southgate in the stage version and is expected to reprise the part in the TV adaptation. The adaptation will be a four-part drama, written by Graham and directed by Rupert Goold, who also helmed the stage version.

Andy Harries, the founder of Left Bank Pictures, has also spoken about the importance of a “healthy” BBC.

“Are we in danger of our business ending up as a first-class, top-end service industry to the U.S. at the expense of our own shows? Shows that reflect our own lives in the UK,” Harries asked at last week’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. 

“The streamers need the competition. Our industry needs a healthy BBC. The BBC keeps us British, its role in our society is unique and unifying,” he added.

It’s hard to disagree with that. 

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