China Miéville’s genre-busting thriller “The City & The City” is coming to television as a four-part drama series starring David Morrissey as Inspector Tyador Borlú, as announced Thursday by the BBC. Morrissey is likely best known in the United States for his stint as The Governor on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (seen above in that role).
Adapted by the independent production company Mammoth Screen for BBC Two, Miéville’s tale is a police procedural murder mystery with a fantasy twist: the two cities of the title, Besźel and Ul Qoma, are actually the same place. They inhabit roughly the same physical space, but are perceived as separate cities, one prosperous and the other not. Citizens from each actively ignore citizens from the other, and there are serious punishments meted out for anyone who commits the act of “breaching” — observing and recognizing the existence of the other city or its citizens.
Borlú’s world begins to unravel when his investigation of the death of a foreign student in his native Besźel uncovers evidence that the dead girl came from Ul Qoma, a revelation that, as the BBC’s plot synopsis puts it, “defies comprehension and will challenge everything Borlú holds dear.”
Directed by Tom Shankland (“House of Cards”) and adapted/executive produced by Tony Grisoni (“The Young Pope,”) “The City & The City” also stars Mandeep Dillon (“Some Girls”) as Constable Corwi of the Besźel Policzai, Maria Schrader (“Deutschland 83”) as Senior Detective Dhatt of the Ul Qoma Militsya, Ron Cook (“Mr Selfridge”) as Burl’s superior, Commissar Gadlem, Danny Webb (“Humans”) as hard-right nationalist politician Major Syedr, and Christian Camargo (“Penny Dreadful”) as Doctor Bowden, an American academic.
Miéville also has experience as a comic book writer, notably the “Dial H” series for DC Comics. “The City & The City” TV adaptation does not yet have a release date.