This Cast Photo Brings Together the Ragtag Heroes of BBC's The Watch

From The Watch.
From The Watch.
Image: BBC America

This is not a Discworld adaptation you’ve seen before.

BBC’s newest attempt to adapt Terry Pratchett’s seminal fantasy series is The Watch, a modernized, slickly stylish take on Pratchett’s City Watch, a subsection of the Discworld universe influenced by noir, cynicism, and procedurals. In short: these misfits are trying to keep the city safe. And they’re going to have a hard time doing it and staying on the right side of morality in the process. In a new photo, the stars gather, giving us our best look yet at just what the show is going to look like.


This is not how I pictured them in the books, but I can’t say I hate it. Meet the whole crew: Lady Ramkin, Captain Vimes, Cheery, Angua, Detritus, Carrot. I’m interested in what the show’s version of Death is going to look like. Hopefully just a creepy cloak; you can’t really beat a creepy personified cloak.

Whether you’re a Discworld-loving skeptic or intrigued by what you see, The Watch is coming, starring Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi, in January 2021.  

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Adam Whitehead

I’m a bit surprised that io9 has not yet commented on the fact that Rhianna Pratchett has very publicly distanced herself from the adaptation and is now in the “definitely throwing shade” part of the equation, and in fact seems to be so irritated by what happened to the project that she cut a new deal with a different production company to ensure none of the other Discworld books share the same fate.

For those not in the know, this project was announced many years ago when Sir Terry was still alive and it was in development at the BBC proper with Sir Terry’s development company Narrativia directly involved, represented by Rhianna Pratchett (Sir Terry’s daughter and a highly respected writer in her own right) and Rob Wilkins (Sir Terry’s business partner). At some point around the time of Sir Terry’s death they decided not to continue with the project and passed it onto BBC America. Something in the contract allowed BBC America to shut out Narrativia and take complete creative control of the project.

Just like they did with the Dirk Gently adaptation a few years back, they decided to do a “loosely inspired by” thing and threw everything out apart from some character and place names. With Dirk Gently they got away with that because the source material was very thin (2 very short novels compared to 41 of all sizes), relatively obscure (maybe a few hundred thousand sales of Douglas Adams’ much lesser-known series versus 90 million sales of the joint-bestselling post-Tolkien adult fantasy series, along with Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire) and they made sure to say they were doing a sequel to the books, not a direct adaptation. None of that is in play here, and as far as I can tell they seem genuinely surprised by the absolute opprobrium they have unleashed in the process.

I mean, it’s a City Watch TV show and they haven’t even cast Nobbs and Colon. That’s like doing Lord of the Rings and announcing that they’re leaving out Gimli and Pippin.