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Since many – if not most – British TV fans are also passionate fiction readers, it's no surprise we're frequently asked whether there's a Maisie Dobbs TV series (or movie). Given that many less deserving works have been adapted for TV, it's only natural to wonder if anyone has adapted Jacqueline Winspear's formidable female detective.
Not familiar with the books? You can check out all the Maisie Dobbs books HERE.
So: Is There a Maisie Dobbs TV Show or Movie?
2021 UPDATE: It appears the SLAM Films option is no longer relevant (it may have expired or been bought out). We've added the latest news a little further down, but we're keeping this section in for anyone who might be curious about the history of the Maisie Dobbs show or movie adaptation process.
Sadly, no – but that's not where the story ends.
In 2015, SLAM Films acquired an option to produce a Maisie Dobbs TV series. The relatively new production company is headed up by actors Stephen Mangan (Episodes, Hang Ups) and Andrew Lincoln (Teachers, The Walking Dead). To date, they've produced shows like Hang Ups and the single episode show Urban Myths (episode titled Bleak House Guest).
At time of acquisition, Stephen Mangan released the following statement:
We are hugely excited to be working with Jacqueline Winspear,” said Mangan. “There has never been a female character like Maisie Dobbs in period drama; she has huge appeal for a modern television audience and the potential to be a truly iconic screen figure. We can't wait to get started on these wonderful stories
Noticeably absent from their list of productions is a Maisie Dobbs TV series. Since the initial announcement, there's been no further information about progress on the series. That might be a good thing, though.
Based on Slam's productions so far, the Maisie Dobbs series doesn't seem like a good fit. Slam's productions have mostly been light comedies, while Maisie Dobbs is a rich, historic series with a lot of emotion and drama.
Given how precious the series is to so many, it would be terrible to see it adapted poorly. The quality of the source material deserves an adaptation on par with shows like Endeavour or Downton Abbey. It has the potential to be the next great detective TV series, but only if it's done well.
Will There Ever Be a Maisie Dobbs TV Series or Movie?
While it's true Slam Films acquired the option to produce Maisie Dobbs, it's also true that options expire. None of the announcements we found stated the option length, so it's entirely possible it's already expired – or that it will expire in the near future.
If that's the case, it's entirely possible that another company could pick up the rights and make a Maisie Dobbs TV series. We certainly hope that's what happens. It's terrible when a company picks up the option to a much-loved series and then just sits on it instead of moving forward.
There are comparatively few rich, dramatic mysteries with female leads (vs. male leads), so it would be wonderful to see this series picked up by a company with the talent, track record, and budget to do it justice. With 16 books in the series and millions of sales around the world, there's certainly a lot of great source material.
2021 Update: The Clintons Option Maisie Dobbs for TV or Film Adaptation
It seesms that either the Slam option has expired or the Clintons have bought out the option to adapt the Maisie Dobbs series, as there was an announcement today that Hilary and Chelsea Clinton's HiddenLight Productions has now acquired the film and TV rights for the 16-book series.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society's Cambridge Convention, Hilary Clinton said (via video link):
One of our favorite books that Chelsea and I have shared over many years is a book about a character called Maisie Dobbs, which is a series about a WWI field nurse who turns into a detective, and we just optioned it. It’s an international bestseller by Jacqueline Winspear, and we love the character. It goes from WWI to the Spanish Civil War to WWII. She comes of age in a time of great social upheaval.
The Clintons launched their production company back in December with the intention of creating documentaries and scripted content that “focuses on the human spirit”. Their opening project was a docuseries based on their 2019 book, The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. The series was picked up by Apple after a bidding war.
Jacqueline Winspear posted about the acquisition on Facebook, saying:
There is a long road between “option” and a project coming to fruition and appearing on screen – but in the meantime, I confess, I feel a little as if I've just seen my firstborn go off to college. However, I'm also very excited about the possibilities. There are so many people involved in these developments, but for me the most important piece of the pie is the readers, you who have discovered Maisie Dobbs and have come back to her time and again. To you I am filled with gratitude – for a writer, it doesn't get any better, and to be a writer was always my dream. Thank you!
Who Would Be Your Pick to Play Maisie Dobbs on TV?
Given that the series spans a number of decades, it would be vital to select an actress old enough to play Maisie as she approaches her 40s, but young enough to convincingly portray her in the earlier books (and probably a second, much younger lady to portray her in her youthful days as a servant).
Who would be your pick to play Maisie? When you read the books, have you pictured anyone specific for the other people in her life? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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After founding I Heart British TV in 2016 as a resource for her granny, Stefanie has grown I Heart British TV into a resource that serves millions of British TV fans every year. When not writing posts or editing contributions to the site, you can probably find her working on the latest print edition of the British TV Streaming Guide.
I suggest Hilary and Chelsea Clinton not attempt the impossible. I doubt that Maisie Dobbs will transfer from book to screen intact. Casting, of course, is crucial . No matter how skilled the actress I believe there is not one who can adequately express the complexity of Maisie, bothe the strength and vulnerability she exhibits. So much of Maisie is simply her presence. Please recall how poorly Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane transferred to screen – not the best adaptation.
KATE BECKINSALE actually has Romany blood!!!
Emily Blunt or Emma Watson would be my choice. When I read the books, however, I picture Norma Shearer as Maisie Dobbs, but we can’t resurrect her for the part, unfortunately. I think Michelle Dockery would do well to play the part of Priscilla Evernden Partridge.
Emma Watson popped first into my mind. Also Vanessa Kirby could do it well I think. More so than Claire Fiy, though she could too
Keeley Hawes ! Claire Foy if tall enough, same for Anne Hathaway. Yes somehow Emma Watson has to have a role
Gotta be Hayley Atwell (from Agent Carter)
Lily James or Rosamund Pike as Priscilla
Jessica Brown Findlay or Michelle Dockery
I second Michele Dockery.
I think either Dafne Keen or Millie Bobby Brown would be excellent as Young Maisie. Perhaps they could age well into older, but if not I’d like to see Daisy Lewis in the role. She has the depth, and the chops for it.
Jessica Brown Findlay
Anne Hathaway sounds like a winner to me
Absolutely!! She would be brilliant.
Ella Balinska. Then the series would actually be produced.
Emma Pierson (stunning) could be an excellent Maisie…or Ruby Bentall (gorgeous!). I always pictured a dark, unconventional beauty, who is really quite striking, as Maisie.
I nominate Emma Watson for Maisie.
I’ve always pictured Natalie Dormer when I’ve been reading the books.
The gal who plays Bunty Windermere in Father Brown would be wonderful as Maisie’s friend Priscilla! I have often pictured her as Priscilla when reading.
She is much too plump to be Priscilla! I honestly don’t mean that in a snarky way. Priscilla is a tall, slender, fashionable classy woman and the actress who plays Bunty just isn’t right physically. I adore that character and think she adds so much to Father Brown but she isn’t Priscilla.
Cate Winslett or Tatie but toned down a bit. Winslett a bit thinner perhaps as Maisie is tall and slender. Hathaway, perhaps. Or someone completely new, Englsih, tall, slender and a beautiful cam way of acting. Not acting, in fact, just being. I have three more books to go and when they are finished, I am sure I shall go into a funk. Brilliant character, elegant writing, engaging on a level we do not see often in TV series.
The Mazie Dobbs books are wonderful. Beautifully written and always interesting. I think that Keeley Hawes (The Durrells in Corfu) would be perfect as Mazie