Lewis Trilogy books set for BBC TV adaptation

THE BBC has snapped up the rights to adapt another best-selling series of Scottish crime novels.

Peter May's Lewis Trilogy books are based on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Johnston Press
Peter May's Lewis Trilogy books are based on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Johnston Press

Peter May has revealed he has agreed a deal over the Lewis Trilogy, which is set in the Outer Hebrides.

The Glasgow-born author, who is now based in France, has revealed that three separate two-hour TV films are being planned for BBC 4.

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And BBC Scotland has already started development work on the first instalment of his series, The Blackhouse. It follows the events after a detective is sent to his native Outer Hebrides to investigate the murder of a man who bullied him at school.

The TV adaptation of the Lewis Trilogy could provide a huge boost to the tourism industry of the Isle of Lewis, where the books are set. The BBC is already making the children’s programme Katie Morag on the island. which has significant studio production facilities.

News of the latest production has emerged just days after BBC Scotland revealed plans for an adaptation of the Iain Banks novel Stonemouth. Filming on the two-part drama, which is set in a fictional Aberdeenshire village, is due to get underway in locations around Scotland in October.

Glasgow-born May, who lives in France, famously had the first book in his trilogy rejected by British publishers, but was released in his adopted home country five years ago and won one France’s leading literary awards. More than a million copies of the three books are thought to be have been snapped up in the UK alone since then.

May, a former journalist, wrote his first novel in the 1970s and created series TV series like The Standard, Squadron and Gaelic soap opera Machair, which ran for five years and was also shot on location on the Isle of Lewis.

May said: “The situation is that the BBC have optioned the trilogy with a view to potentially making three two-hour films for BBC 4. An adaptation of “The Blackhouse” is currently under development.

“As I understand it, BBC Alba will also have an involvement, with there being a substantial subtitled Gaelic language content.”

A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland said:

“As ‘The Blackhouse’ is in the very early stages of development it’s too premature to be more specific at the moment.”

The BBC has enjoyed significant recent success with Shetland, the detective dramas with Douglas Henshall, which are based on Ann Cleeves’ novels, with a third series due to be filmed next year.

It has also adapted two Denise Mina novels for the Field of Blood dramas, which are set amid the Glasgow newspaper industry in the 1980s, and have starred David Morrissey and Ford Kiernan.