Ones to Watch: Writers
DQ casts its eye over a range of upcoming series from around the world and picks out 20 writers to tune in for, from Moshe Zonder (Tehran) to Suzan-Lori Parks (Genius: Aretha) and Chris Van Dusen (Bridgerton).
20. Måns Mårlind
One of the original creators of acclaimed crime drama The Bridge, Swedish writer Mårlind followed that series with Midnight Sun, the story of a French detective sent to the very north of Sweden to solve a brutal murder. Now he has created Shadowplay, a series set in a lawless Berlin in 1946 where an American cop arrives to build a police force in the chaotic aftermath of the way. His mission is to take down the Al Capone of the broken city, but he also undertakes a personal crusade to find his missing brother.
19. Jeb Stuart
Stuart is the writer two of the biggest action films of the 1980s and 90s, Die Hard and The Fugitive. Now working on something completely different, he has penned Netflix animated drama The Liberator. Based on real events, it tells the story of Second World War infantry commander Felix ‘Shotgun’ Sparks, who led the members of the 157th Infantry Battalion of the 45th Division, an integrated group of white cowboys, Mexican Americans and Native soldiers drawn from across the West. For more than 500 days, they led a group of American soldiers from Italy to France to the liberation of Dachau.
18. Anna Symon
Symon penned episodes of period drama Indian Summers before writing three-part miniseries Mrs Wilson and mystery drama Deep Water. Next up is The Essex Serpent, an adaptation of Sarah Perry’s novel for Apple TV+. It tells the story of newly widowed Cora, who leaves Victorian London to escape an abusive relationship and lands in a small village where a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent is said to have returned.
17. Niccolò Ammaniti
The novelist, screenwriter and director (also pictured top) is following up his Sky Italia series Il Miracolo (The Miracle) by adapting his own novel, Anna, for the same broadcaster. The dystopian story is set in a world ravaged by a virus that kills adults but spares children, as a teenager sets off in search of her kidnapped brother with the instructions left by her mother acting as her survival guide.
16. Kate Ashfield
Recognisable to television and film fans for her acting roles, which include Shaun of the Dead, A Confession, Line of Duty and Life, Ashfield also has a burgeoning career as a writer. Her first writing credit was British series Born to Kill, which she now follows up with Finnish drama Huone 301 (Man in Room 301). It tells the story of the Kurtti family, whose lives change irrevocably one fateful night. Years later, the secrets of that night start to unravel on a family vacation in Greece, pushing their family ties to the limit.
15. Misha Green
Green’s first screen credits came with biker series Sons of Anarchy, before writing jobs on Heroes, Spartacus, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and Helix. She went on to create Underground, the Civil War-era drama about a group of slaves fighting for freedom on an underground railway, before penning one of this year’s biggest series, HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Based on Matt Ruff’s novel, the show blends horror and science fiction with the real-life terrors of the 1950s Jim Crow era as Atticus Freeman partners with friend Letitia and his uncle George to travel across America in search of his missing father.
14. Moshe Zonder
As one of the writers of Fauda, Zonder was behind an action-packed thriller that has become one of the biggest hits to come out of Israel. The writer has now penned Tehran, which is airing globally on Apple TV+ . The story follows a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in dire jeopardy.
13. Virginie Brac
Brac began her career as a novelist before moving into television, writing on crime drama Engrenages (Spiral) and creating Insoupçonnable, the French adaptation of British thriller The Fall. Her next series is Cheyenne & Lola, a 10-part drama that sees Cheyenne, recently released from prison, cross paths with Lola, a Parisian woman who has arrived in the north of France to move in with her lover. When Cheyenne witnesses Lola kill her lover’s wife, she assumes she will be blamed for the killing and so the pair form a ruthless duo.
12. Esther Gerritsen
Considered one of the best contemporary novelists in the Netherlands, Gerritsen is now building her reputation as a screenwriter. Beginning with 2014 coming-of-age drama Nena and 2018 comedy-drama Dorst, she then partnered with actors Carice van Houten and Halina Reijn on Instinct last year. Now she partners with the latter pair again as lead writer on Red Light. Recently premiering at French festival Canneseries ahead of its domestic debut early next year, the series follows three women with completely different backgrounds – a prostitute, a well-known soprano and a cop – whose lives unexpectedly intertwine.
11. Tom Edge
Edge wrote for comedies Threesome, Pramface and Lovesick before scripting feature-length drama The Last Dragonslayer. More recently, he has worked on royal drama The Crown and adapted three of JK Rowling’s Strike novels – The Silkworm, Career of Evil and Lethal White – for the BBC. He’s now working on two new projects for the broadcaster: submarine thriller Vigil and You Don’t Know Me, a four-part adaptation of Imran Mahmood’s novel about a man who faces a murder trial but insists he is innocent.
10. Suzan-Lori Parks
Playwright, screenwriter, musician and novelist Parks is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog. She is currently showrunning the third season of National Geographic anthology series Genius, which will chronicle the life of iconic singer Aretha Franklin and was due to air earlier this year but has been delayed by the pandemic.
9.Gjermund S Eriksen
Mammon and For Life creator Eriksen is tackling the world of right-wing extremism in his next series, Furia. Set in an idyllic Norwegian town, the show sees a shocking killing lead a male police officer to an undercover female officer as she infiltrates a nationalistic subculture, leading them to uncover a horrifying underworld of hatred and a terrorist plot that stretches from Norway to the heart of Europe.
8. Angela Pell
Film and TV screenwriter Pell’s first feature, the award-winning Snow Cake, starred Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. She later penned Sky Playhouse drama Gifted, featuring Rhys Ifans. Her next project, Close to Me, boasts a cast that includes Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston. Based on the novel by Amanda Reynolds, it is the story of Jo Harding, a woman who seems to have it all. But following a fall, an entire year suddenly vanishes from Jo’s memory. As she struggles to piece events together, she discovers her life wasn’t quite as perfect as she imagined and that someone will do all they can to keep a terrible secret from her.
7. Sarah Solemani
As an actor, Solemani has credits in films and TV series including Inside No 9, No Offence, Bridget Jones’s Baby, The Five, The Wrong Mans and Him & Her. As a writer, she has worked on HBO’s Barry and penned an episode of Sky Arts’ Urban Myths strand, and is now behind four-part BBC drama Ridley Road. Adapted from the novel by Jo Bloom and inspired by the struggle of the 62 Group, Ridley Road focuses on a coalition of Jewish men who stood up to rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain. The thriller sees a woman reject her middle-class life to join the fight against fascism, risking everything for her beliefs and the man she loves.
6. Aaron Guzikowski
Guzikowski is behind one of the most ambitious and thought-provoking series of the year. His science-fiction thriller Raised by Wolves, which debuted on HBO Max to critical acclaim and has been renewed for a second season, centres on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous task. Guzikowski’s previous credits include films Contraband, Prisoners and Papillon and TV series The Red Road.
5. Emily Mortimer
An actor whose screen career has included roles in feature film Mary Poppins Returns and TV series The Newsroom, Mortimer first wrote for the small screen when she partnered with best friend Dolly Wells on Sky comedy-drama Doll & Em, about an actor who hires her best friend as her assistant. Mortimer has now adapted Nancy Mitford novel The Pursuit of Love as a three-part miniseries for the BBC and Amazon. The period drama follows the adventures and misadventures of the charismatic and fearless Linda Radlett and her best friend and cousin, Fanny Logan, who are on the hunt for the ideal husband. However, their friendship is put to the test when Fanny settles for a steady life and Linda decides to follow her heart – to increasingly wild and outrageous places.
4.Chris Van Dusen
A long-time writer and producer with Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, Van Dusen has worked on Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice and The Catch. He is now creator and showrunner of Bridgerton, Shondaland’s first Netflix series, which is set in Regency London. Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family, makes her society debut hoping to find true love. When she meets the highly desirable and rebellious Duke of Hastings, both proclaim they want nothing to do with each other – yet they find themselves drawn together in an increasing battle of wits while navigating society’s expectations for their future.
3. Abby Ajayi
Ajayi began her career on BBC serial dramas including EastEnders, Doctors and Holby City before moving to the US to work on series such as the Viola Davis-fronted How to Get Away With Murder and Four Weddings & a Funeral, the series based on the classic British film. Back in the UK, she has created Riches, an ITV series that introduces Stephen Richards, a successful and smart businessman. When he suffers a stroke, Stephen’s children are set to collide as secrets and lies come to the surface, while his business empire hangs in the balance.
2. Irvine Welsh
The Scottish author is best known for writing Trainspotting, the iconic novel that was brought to the screen in 1996. He’s now working on two TV projects. The first, Crime, is an adaptation of his own book set in Edinburgh and telling the story of a detective who is investigating the disappearance of a schoolgirl while battling his own personal demons. Welsh has also partnered with American Psycho author Brett Easton Ellis to co-create American Tabloid, a series based on US tabloid culture that follows staff and events at a weekly publication where political correctness, morals and ethics are left firmly at the door.
1. Sigal Avin
Israeli-American writer and director Avin first wrote for the stage before turning her hand to telenovelas in Israel and then creating dramedy Mythological Ex, which was adapted by US network CBS as The Ex List. Known for comedies such as Bilti Hafich (Irreversible), which was also remade in the US, Avin is taking a different approach with her latest series, Losing Alice. Inspired by Faust’s tale, the psychological neo-noir show follows a film director who becomes obsessed with a young femme fatale and ultimately surrenders her moral integrity to achieve power, success and relevance.
tagged in: Aaron Guzikowski, Abby Ajayi, Angela Pell, Anna Symon, Chris Van Dusen, Emily Mortimer, Esther Gerritsen, Gjermund S Eriksen, Irvine Welsh, Jeb Stuart, Kate Ashfield, Måns Marlind, Misha Green, Moshe Zonder, Niccolò Ammaniti, Sarah Solemani, Sigal Avin, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tom Edge, Virginie Brac