Benedict Cumberbatch to produce and star in BBC adaptation of Ian McEwan novel The Child in Time

It’s a harrowing story of immense loss and grief

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Benedict Cumberbatch will star in and executive produce a 90-minute one-off adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning 1987 novel, A Child in Time.

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It will be a significant shift from his usual BBC role as Sherlock, with Cumberbatch playing protagonist Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children’s books, whose life is destroyed when he loses his child.

The loss devastates Stephen’s marriage, and sets him and his wife on diverging paths as both struggle with an all-consuming grief. This will be the second Ian McEwan adaptation the actor has been involved in – after starring in the 2007 film Atonement.

“I read the novel years ago and it stayed with me – profound, beautiful and very moving,” Cumberbatch said. “Only Ian McEwan could write about loss with such telling honesty.”

The story, which is the first drama to be made by Cumberbatch’s production company SunnyMarch TV, will be adapted by Stephen Butchard and directed by Julian Farino.

McEwan said: “I’m thrilled to have my novel in the hands of such a high level creative team.

“I have fond memories of Benedict playing a brilliant and key part in the movie adaptation of Atonement.

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“Now, it’s a great honour to have this actor of such immense resource, experience and subtlety in the lead role of The Child In Time.”