A drama series based on the infamous phone-hacking scandal that took down Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the News of the World is in development at Rise Films.
Titled “Thank You & Goodbye,” the show tells the “inside story behind the fall of the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, the News of the World — from the perspective of the tabloid journalists and private investigators at the heart of it all — and the extraordinary events that took place next,” according to the series’ description. “Set against the dying embers of the age of print journalism, ‘Thank You & Goodbye’ is an epic story of criminal practice deployed on an industrial scale that becomes a powerful tale of redemption — with a closely guarded final sting in its tail.”
The series, which does not yet have a network or platform attached to it, comes from director Saul Dibb (“The Salisbury Poisonings”), writer Luke Neal (“Des”) and executive producer Teddy Leifer.
“The News of the World phone-hacking scandal made headlines around the world when it was revealed that a private investigator hired by the paper had hacked the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl,” per Rise Film. “The subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of over 100 people, the imprisonment of Downing Street’s Director of Communications, the resignation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, an unprecedented public inquiry into the ethical practices of the British press and, ultimately, the closure of one of the world’s oldest and most popular newspapers, emblazoned with the immortal final headline: THANK YOU & GOODBYE.”
Rise Film said the series “will explore the dramatic events leading up to this explosive revelation” and “will delve beyond the well-known elements of the watershed news story.”
“Dibb and Neal are planning an unflinching look at the scandal from the viewpoint of the newsroom where it happened, with exclusive access to the main tabloid journalists and private investigators who were charged and convicted in the aftermath — and who gave evidence against their previous employers and colleagues,” according to studio. “This group, with the help of others, have since used their investigative skills to unpick the unanswered questions surrounding the Leveson Inquiry, which concluded in 2012 and the criminal proceedings that finished in 2014, in the hope of finally holding the true intellectual authors of the scandal to account.”
“The story of the phone-hacking scandal becomes more relevant every day,” Leifer said. “The scandal and subsequent inquiry exposed just how interconnected certain newspapers were with the upper echelons of the political elite. Even though the News of the World was shut down, key players implicated in the scandal continued to take up positions of influence and shape the media ecosystem that surrounds us today.”
“This is simply one of the most important, gripping and richest stories of this century — and yet we still don’t know even half of what really went on,” Dibb added. “Along with exceptional new talent Luke Neal and the brilliant Teddy Leifer and his team, I’m so excited we’re able to tell it all for the first time in dramatic form, and from the point of view of the people at the heart of it: the band of so-called ‘rogue reporters’ who then blew the whistle on those that had instructed them and the industry at large.”
Neal said: “I am thrilled to collaborate with Saul and Rise Films to create a series about what I consider to be one of the most important moral crossroads of our generation. I believe by exploring — without judgement or sensationalism — the human nature of the people who contributed to this gross abuse of power, and trying to understand how and why they did this, is the only true way to stop this happening again.”
Dibb is represented by Casarotto and WME, Neal is represented by United Agents, Rise Films is represented by UTA and ACK Media Law.