Sky and Peacock are working together on a TV series adaptation of The Day of the Jackal. Top Boy showrunner Ronan Bennett is attached to this adaption. It is said to be… uh oh… a “contemporary reimagining” of the assassin thriller.
The novel has been adapted twice to the screen. The 1973 Edward Fox-led version follows the book closely, is an all-time classic and is endlessly rewatchable. It remains nail-biting even when you are familiar with the ending. The Day of the Jackal received positive reviews and went on to win the BAFTA Award for Best Editing, five additional BAFTA Award nominations, two Golden Globe Award nominations, and one Oscar nomination.
The 1997 Bruce Willis and Richard Gere adaption is basically a crime against cinema. This should teach those behind this project the problem with “contemporary reimagining”.
Game of Thrones alum Brian Kirk will direct with Bennett writing and working as showrunner with production starting next summer.
The original follows a professional assassin who is contracted by a French paramilitary dissident to kill French President Charles de Gaulle. It is written by Frederick Forsyth, who is like Tom Clancy for grown-ups.
While the novel is historical fiction, the OAS, as described did exist and the book opens with an accurate depiction of the attempt to assassinate de Gaulle by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry on 22 August 1962.
Frederick Forsyth spent most of his time in West Africa covering the Biafran war, first for the BBC in 1967 and then for another eighteen months as a freelance journalist in 1968–1969. At 31, the the freelance journalist, international adventurer, and onetime youngest fighter pilot in the RAF found himself both out of work and “flat broke”.
To solve his financial problems he wrote The Day Of The Jackal as a political thriller and as a one-off. Unlike most novelists, Forsyth would employ the same type of research techniques that he had used as an investigative reporter. This means his work has an increased sense of reality that endures to this day.
He was also rumored to have been involved with the Secret Intelligence Service, but this was never confirmed. His books are known to make establishments worldwide nervous as his writing tends to veer to close to reality for comfort.
One example of this was in The Day Of The Jackal when he exposed a loophole readily available to anyone who wanted to forge a new identity that governments then had to scramble to close.