David Nicholls Interview: ‘Patrick Melrose’ writer
“It was always my dream adaptation,” reveals writer David Nicholls about taking on the Showtime limited series “Patrick Melrose.” “I loved the world, and I thought the central character had this incredible richness and variety.” Based on a series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, the show follows the life journey of the title character (Benedict Cumberbatch) including his abusive childhood, his struggles with addiction, and his ultimate redemption. Nicholls “loved the idea of seeing this character change and grow, and finding out where he would be in the next stage of his life.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Nicholls above.
Adapting the novels into a five-part limited series was “a huge job” that has “taken up most of the last five years.” Although he’s had experience bringing lofty literary material to the screen — “Great Expectations” (2012), “Far from the Madding Crowd” (2015) — he found “Patrick Melrose” to be an even more daunting challenge.
“Dickens and Hardy, even though those were novelists who were writing in a pre-cinema era, they’re much easier to adapt,” Nicholls explains. “They have these little narrative high-points, these climaxes, these cliffhangers, that come at very regular, serialized intervals.” St. Aubyn’s novels, on the other hand, “are much more internal.” Because the books “are not plot or story led” Nicholls had to find a way to “put a mental, emotional journey into action and words.”
Nicholls previously received BAFTA TV nominations for “Cold Feet” (Best New Writer in 2001) and “ShakespeaRe-told” (Best Single Drama in 2006). He has also written screenplays for films like “Simpatico” (1999) and “One Day” (2011), as well as a TV adaptation of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” (2008).