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Peacock picks up new adaptation of classic spy thriller 'The Day of the Jackal'

Frederick Forsyth's classic novel is getting an updated take from Peacock and Sky.

By Matthew Jackson
The Day of the Jackal (1972)

The Day of the Jackal, one of the most successful thrillers of the 1970s, is getting a reinvention. Peacock announced Thursday that it has partnered with the UK's Sky to commission a new series based on Frederick Forsyth's original novel, offering an updated, contemporary take on the "cat and mouse" story. 

The series, which will kick off production in the summer of 2023, will be helmed by writer and showrunner Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies), while Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones) will direct. No casting has been announced for the series, and plot details are being kept under wraps beyond word that the series will "delve deeper" into the title character of the Jackal while "remaining true to the DNA" of Forsyth's novel.

“We’re excited to adapt this internationally recognized classic into an updated, timely, political thriller," NBCUniversal Television President of Scripted Content Lisa Katz said in a statement. "Shepherded by novelist and showrunner Ronan Bennett and [production company] Carnival, this action-packed high-stakes drama is sure to be an edge-of-your seat adventure for Peacock audiences.”

Released in 1971, Forsyth's novel used a real-life attempt to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s as a springboard for an assassin thriller, as a French lawman attempts to apprehend a deadly, chameleonic hired killer known only as "The Jackal." As The Jackal carefully plots his own attempt on De Gaulle's life, the detective works to establish who the killer really is, hoping that unraveling his identity will provide clues that allow him to stop the killing. 

The novel was a bestselling success, won Forsyth an Edgar Award, and was adapted in 1973 into a hit film of the same name by High Noon director Fred Zinneman. The film is still widely revered as one of the great thrillers of the 1970s, and while the series is clearly hoping to wield that name recognition, Peacock's announcement also promises a new story "set amidst the turbulent geo-political landscape of our time." It'll be interesting to see how this new version of The Day of the Jackal takes shape.