Move over, Doctor Who, because Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is getting a new adaptation kicking off this Christmas. The BBC has announced a six-part radio drama of the 2005 fantasy novel set to premiere on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day, with the program being made available shortly after broadcast.
Starring Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) as Mr. Nancy, aka the West African trickster god Anansi, the adaptation follows Charlie (voiced by Game of Thrones actor Jacob Anderson), a young man who discovers upon the death of their father that he has a brother he never knew about named Spider (Misfits’ Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). Charlie learns his brother is everything he's not and that they are both the sons of the god Anansi. The audio drama also stars Adjoa Andoh (Doctor Who) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Lucy, Rush).
Back in 2007, the BBC took a first stab at a radio play which then starred Henry as Spider, but Gaiman was really displeased with that adaptation because of budget cuts and the BBC cutting the run time down to one hour. In 2014, it was announced that a TV miniseries would be produced (again at the BBC), but nothing ever came of it. Gaiman himself apparently wrote a screenplay for a movie back in 2010, but that, too, never materialized.
The character of Mr. Nancy/Anansi was recently played by Orlando Jones in Bryan Fuller’s Starz TV series American Gods, and the showrunner said that if the rights were to become available again, he would be interested in a spinoff (although Anansi Boys is technically not an American Gods sequel per se) starring Jones in the role.
“If we ever get the rights to Anansi Boys,” Fuller told Screen Rant earlier this year, “that will be the first spinoff of the show [American Gods] because Orlando is so fantastic and deserves his own show. That character is so rich and has such a giant history that if we are so successful that we get to have a spinoff, [Anansi Boys] would probably be our first choice.”