Stephen Mangan to play Dirk Gently


The BBC has announced that Green Wing actor Stephen Mangan is to play Douglas Adams’ detective Dirk Gently in a new BBC Four drama.


Stephen Mangan (Free Agents, Green Wing) has been announced to play Douglas Adams’ eccentric detective Dirk Gently in a new BBC Four drama based on the author’s cult novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. He is joined by Darren Boyd (Royal Wedding, Little Dorrit) as his unwitting sidekick Richard Macduff and Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Friends) as Richard’s girlfriend Susan in the adaptation by Bafta-winning Howard Overman (Misfits, Vexed, Merlin).


“I’ve been a fan of Douglas Adams ever since the Hitchhiker’s radio series which I used to record as a child and listen to over and over again in my bedroom. It’s such a thrill to now be playing one of his brilliant characters. Dirk is a chaotic, anarchic force of nature with a totally unique take on the world. He is described as ‘lazy, untidy, dismissive and unreliable’. I’ve absolutely no idea why they thought I’d be right for the role.” – Stephen Mangan


Anti-hero Dirk Gently operates his eponymous detective agency based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. Perpetually broke, hopelessly chaotic and utterly infuriating, most people suspect Dirk is nothing more than a cheap conman. And they might be right – but nevertheless his methods, though unusual, do often produce surprising results. When Dirk sets out to solve an apparently simple and harmless disappearance of a cat from an old lady’s house, he unwittingly uncovers a double murder which, in turn, leads to a host of even more extraordinary events.


“For all the years I represented the late, great Douglas Adams, the most substantial frustration for both of us was that we couldn’t get films made either of Hitchhiker or Dirk. Douglas once said, memorably, that ‘getting a film made in Hollywood was like trying to cook a steak by having a bunch of people come into the room and breathe on it’! Well, we did eventually get a film made in Hollywood of Hitchhiker and, tragically, Douglas didn’t live to see it. Nor will he see this adaptation of Dirk – but it’s worth bearing in mind that Douglas always thought Dirk would make a better film than Hitchhiker and I feel sure that this new TV drama with a terrific script by Howard Overman will prove his point!” – Ed Victor, Douglas Adams’ agent


Dirk Gently is being produced by ITV Studios in association with The Welded Tandem Picture Company and will be directed by Damon Thomas (The First Men In The Moon, Crooked House) and produced by Chris Carey. Saurabh Kakkar is executive producer for ITV Studios and Eleanor Moran and Jamie Laurenson executive producers for BBC. The 1x60min drama was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, and Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four.


Shooting commenced this week in Bristol for a winter 2010/2011 transmission. Adams’ fantasy detective novel was published in 1987 and was followed up with The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul. In 2007 and 2008 the novels were adapted for BBC Radio 4 with Harry Enfield playing Dirk Gently. Dirk Gently is the latest drama commission for BBC Four, and follows recent successes The Road To Coronation Street, telling the story of the long-running soap; Lennon Naked starring Christopher Eccleston, and the Women We Loved season with Helena Bonham Carter in Enid, Jane Horrocks in Gracie!, and Anne-Marie Duff in Margot.


The stellar Autumn/Winter 2010/11 line-up on the channel includes Hattie, a biopic of Carry On star Hattie Jacques starring Ruth Jones; H G Wells adaptation The First Men In The Moon; and compelling two-part drama Women In Love based on two novels by DH Lawrence.