Malla Nunn.

South African broadcaster M-Net has commissioned series Detective Cooper from Goalpost Pictures and South African Quizzical Pictures (Intersexions).

The drama is adapted from Australian/South African writer Malla Nunn’s A Beautiful Place to Die, centering on a white detective in apartheid-era South Africa with a dangerous secret: he is in fact mixed race.

Goalpost Pictures optioned Nunn’s novels early last year, and the author – a recent winner of the LA Book Prize for YA Literature – is the story editor on the production.

Sarah Christie is development producer for Goalpost, with Kylie du Fresne and Rosemary Blight to executive produce alongside Quizzical’s Nimrod Geva.

LA-based British/Australian writer James McNamara, who was twice named ‘international rising star’ by BAFTA LA, is creating the series for television, in partnership with South African Writer Amy Jephta.

A director has yet to be confirmed for the project.

Du Fresne said the show called for passionate South African partners.

“Goalpost couldn’t be happier to be joining with Quizzical and M-Net to adapt these terrific novels for television,” she said.

“The morally ambiguous characters and drama driven by murder, passion and corruption – set against a fractured, racially divided nation – will make for compelling viewing.”

Geva said the “powerful, engrossing story” carried relevance to the current day.

“Audiences will immediately be pulled into the fascinating contradictions of apartheid-era South Africa: from secret identities at smoky jazz clubs to Nazi ties and sexual deviance in deceptively quaint towns,” he said.

The series is being developed with the generous support of Screen Australia. No Australian broadcaster has yet been appointed.

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