Playground, known for producing ‘Wolf Hall’, is developing a series that is based on James Fenimore Cooper’s historical series of novels titled the ‘Leatherstocking Tales’. The adaptation, which will include ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, is being developed for the BBC. The news was first reported by Variety.
Playground is run by Colin Callender, the former HBO executive. They are working on the project’s pilot script. It is being set up as a returning series. For those unaware, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ is the second and most famous book among the five-book series that Cooper has penned. It has already been adapted for the big screen many times, among which is the 1992 movie, helmed by Michael Mann, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis.
All of the stories in the ‘Leatherstocking Tales’ have some similarities like the fact that they are set between 1740 and 1806. They chronicle the lives of Native Americans and white pioneers on the New York State frontier. We see how their world is on the verge of change even as the struggle between the British and the French to gain control over the region serves as a political backdrop with high stakes. Hawk-Eye, the hero of Cooper’s stories, finds himself drawn into the violent conflict.
Callender and Melissa Gallant are on board as the executive producers. Ed McCardie, known for ‘Shameless‘ is co-writing with Joely Proudfit. The latter is leading a team of Native American consultants, in order to gain their expertise to help with the project. Callender spoke about the upcoming project saying, “Fenimore Cooper was writing ahead of his time and has much to say about celebrating culture, our relationship with the natural world, and how we live alongside each other. We are delighted to be working with the BBC to create a compelling and entertaining series that will fully explore the psychological, political and emotional truths of the stories, and we are delighted to be working with Dr. Joely Proudfit of Native Media Strategies to bring essential authenticity to a much-loved story.” McCardie added to this, saying “These are some of the most thrilling adventure stories ever written, set in one of the most breathtaking landscapes one could imagine. And with its themes of the relationship of man to nature; the manner in which different races, ethnicities, and nationalities view one another; how we view the state; as well as the attitude and responsibilities of the stronger to the weaker, Fenimore Cooper’s work could hardly have more relevance to today’s viewer.”
Notably, BBC already aired a series based on ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ in 1971 that is widely considered to be the most faithful adaptation of the novel to date. However, Playground has proven itself in adapting well known historical pieces, including ‘Howard’s End’, ‘King Lear’, and ‘Little Women’. Hopefully, they will do justice to Cooper’s works as well.