British Director Tace Bayliss gets book option on super hot crime thriller property ‘Penny Black’.
Jonathan Stuart-Brown for Save The British Film Industry.
Tace Bayliss started out as an extra in a ‘Star Wars’ movie but has since blossomed as a director in Eastern Europe and Africa. Now she has signed a book option deal for screen rights for the next iconic detective to join the ranks of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Cadfael, Inspector Barnaby, Inspector Morse, Lord Peter Wimsey and Philip Marlowe.
Yes Tace Bayliss has the screen rights to Penny Black (aka Penny Wanawake aka Penelope Wanawake).
Penny Who ?
Well Penny Black was created by Susan Moody in her debut novel in the 1980s at the same time as Caroline Graham created Midsomer Murders in her debut novel ‘the Killing at Badger’s Drift’. Both were ranked in the Top 100 Best Crime Thrillers of All Time by The Crimewriters Association of Great Britain. But note carefully that Penny Black was ranked much higher on the list than the book which has launched over 100 two hour Midsomer Murders TV mysteries and become ITV’s third best earning international export of the last 15 years.
ITV pounced on white middle aged Inspector John Barnaby -played superbly by John Nettles showing he could outdo even ‘Bergerac’ – but at the time there was no pressure to make Penny Black because she was Black, Female and young at just 22. Yet with cultural changes and global audience consumer demand, this amateur crime solver has now found her time.
The success of ‘The Fast and The Furious’ franchaise – whose every instalment now breezes through $750 million globally at the cinema box office – is the multi-ethnic casting reflecting global audiences.
So the market is established for Black and female leads because these reflect a big part of a global audience.
An original ‘Penny Black’ hardback novel is selling on Amazon for over £5000 and there is every reason to believe it will be going up once Penny is cast and on screen.
Fictional amateur detective Penny Wanawake better known as Penny Black is a 22 year old 6 ft beautiful black female photographer and the daughter of a UN Ambassador.
Penny Black (Penny Wanwake) was created by author Susan Moody and first appeared in the debut novel ‘Penny Black’ which is listed equal 56th place by the British based Crimewriters Association Best of All Time List.
Penny Black is ranked just below books such as ‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie,
Len Deighton’s ‘The IPCRESS File’
Frederick Forsyth’s ‘The Day of The Jackal’
Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’
John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’
Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Collected Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes’
Dorothy L Sayer’s ‘Murder Must Advertise’
Ian Fleming’s ‘From Russia With Love’
Ellis Peter’s ‘A Morbid Taste For Bones’
Jack Higgins’ ‘The Eagle Has Landed’
Ruth Rendal’s ‘A Judgement In Stone’
Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’
Scott Turow’s ‘Presumed Innocent’
but it is ranked higher in The Crime Writers Association Best Of All Time List than every Dick Francis detective novel
PD James novels such as ‘Devices and Desires’ and ‘Innocent Blood’
Graham Greene’s ‘Third Man’
Len Deighton’s ‘Game, Set and Match’
Adam Hall’s ‘The Quiller Memorandum’
Richard Condon’s ‘The Manchurian Candidate’
Martin Cruz Smith’s ‘Gorky Park’
Agatha Christie’s ‘Death Comes As The End’
Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on The Orient Express’,
Agatha Christie’s ‘Death On The Nile’
Christianna Brand’s ‘Green For Danger’
Ken Follet’s ‘The Key To Rebecca’
Erskine Child’s ‘The Riddle of the Sands’
Alistair MacLean’s ‘The Guns of Navarone’
Edgar Wallace’s ‘The Four Just Men’
and it is ranked 24 places higher than Caroline Graham’s ‘The Killing At Badger’s Drift’ which launched The Midsomer Murder whodunnits and ITV series.
Bayliss said “in the 1980s and 1990s there was no great pressure to make whodunits with young black female detectives despite the source novel being rated higher by The British Crime Association than the hugely successful Midsomer Murder’s franchaise which has had over 100 two hour episodes and is the third highest UK TV export of the last 15 years’.
However, Bayliss insists that “As the source novel is ranked alongside Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Philip Marlowe, The Jackal, Cadfael, Lord Peter Wimsey, Harry Lime, 007 James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, and several other hugely successful film and tv crime detective screen adaptions that the time is right for Penny Black to join their screen presence.
Given the recent cinema demographic box office trends as seen in the success of the multi-ethnic casting in ‘The Fast and The Furious’ franchaise”.
Bayliss adds’The Fast and The Furious now expects each instalment to beat $750 million at the global box office even though the individual stars are not the biggest names, it wins because it mirrors the global screen audience which are mostly not white and just under 50% male.
Bayliss concludes, ‘The female, Black and young heroine Penny Black will be the next TV ratings sensation and eventually debut in really big budget movies. Sherlock Holmes, watch out”.
The existing Penny Black novels are.
- Penny Black (1984) (#56 among The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time)
- Penny Dreadful (1984)
- Penny Post (1985)
- Penny Royal (1986)
- Penny Wise (1988)
- Penny Pinching (1989)
- Penny Saving (1993)
So well done Tace Bayliss.