Disney+ orders series based on Jilly Cooper’s Rival
August 25, 2022
By Nik Roseveare
Disney+ has announced Rivals, a new eight-part series based on the novel by Jilly Cooper.
Rivals is part of the author’s bestselling Rutshire Chronicles, a celebrated piece of British literary history, capturing the drama, excess, and brazen power-grabbing of the affluent elite in 1980s England.
The series will be executive produced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins (A Very English Scandal, Holding, EastEnders) and Alexander Lamb (The Bay, We Hunt Together, Ackley Bridge) and written by Treadwell-Collins with Olivier Award-winner Laura Wade (The Riot Club). The UK original series will premiere on Disney+ in EMEA and Asia Pacific and Star+ in Latin America.
Rivals dives headfirst into the cutthroat world of independent television in 1986, where the shoulder pads are big and ambitions even bigger. In the fictional upper-class county of Rutshire, a long-standing rivalry between two powerful men is about to boil over: ex-Olympian, Member of Parliament, and notorious womaniser Rupert Campbell-Black, and his Rutshire neighbour Tony Baddingham, controller of the independent TV franchise Corinium Television. As tensions rise and rivalries deepen, there are spilled secrets, forged alliances, and snatched liaisons that draw wives, lovers, colleagues, friends, and families into their battle.
Cooper commented: “I am so, so excited. Throughout my childhood, my favourite word was ‘Disney’, and by a miraculous coincidence, greater-than-ever Disney are joining forces with an utterly brilliant drama company, Happy Prince, to turn my novel into a TV series. I know they will bring the boardroom battles and love triangles of my characters to life – particularly those of my devastatingly handsome hero. I cannot wait to see who will be stepping into his shoes… let the hunt for our Rupert Campbell-Black commence!”
Lee Mason, Director of Scripted Content, EMEA, Disney+ added: “The combination of Jilly Cooper and Disney+ is delightfully unexpected. We were thrilled when Dominic brought us these iconic books, and we leapt at the chance to bring them to life. We can’t wait to welcome Rupert Campbell-Black and the residents of Rutshire to the platform.”
Treadwell-Collins commented: “I have been wooing Jilly Cooper since I first started working in television. Jilly’s iconic novels’ razor-sharp observations on class, sex, love and what it means to be British resonate even more today than when Jilly wrote them in the 1980s. I’m so excited to bring Rivals to the screen, entertain fans of the beloved Cooperverse and introduce a whole new generation to the sweeping love stories, social satire and biting wit of Rutshire.”
The lead director is BAFTA-nominated Elliot Hegarty (Ted Lasso, Cheaters, Trying), who also serves as executive producer on episodes 1-3. Eliza Mellor (The Midwich Cuckoos, Behind Her Eyes, Poldark) serves as Series Producer. In addition to Treadwell-Collins and Wade, the series writers room also includes: Sophie Goodhart (The Baby, Sex Education), Marek Horn, Mimi Hare & Clare Naylor (The Accidental Husband), Dare Aiyegbayo (The Dumping Ground, EastEnders), Kefi Chadwick (Looted, Avoidance), Tray Agyeman, and Sorcha Kurien Walsh (The Pink Pill).