Wallander team to film Nelson Mandela TV drama series

New six-part show to document the life and times of the South African leader

The inspirational life of Nelson Mandela is to be made into a £13m drama by his grandson and the UK team behind BBC1’s Wallander.

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Andy Harries of UK production company Left Bank said: “There is a whole generation of people who weren’t even born when Nelson Mandela finally walked free from prison after 27 years in captivity in the early 1990s. His story is one that they need to know.”

Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, said the series is not about portraying a saintly hero: “The people who helped guide and shape him will be important characters. I felt if we were going to do this, it was important to put the focus on the man. That’s why in the research for this it’s important that we get as close to his thoughts as we can.”

To that end, the production has bought the rights to two books by Mandela himself and Kweku Mandela reports that when approving the series, the famous leader, now 93, said: “How much am I getting paid?”

The series is to be a six-part drama and is provisionally called Madiba – a tribal clan name that Mandela is also known by. It’s being written by British screenwriter Nigel Williams, best known for adapting his own novel, The Wimbledon Poisoner, for the screen and for scripting Elizabeth I, starring Helen Mirren.

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Filming begins later this year in South Africa but no casting has yet been announced. It’s also not yet known which UK broadcaster will air it.