February 28, 2024

Bill Bryson bestseller A Short History of Nearly Everything is being reimagined as an animated TV series by former The Simpsons showrunner Josh Weinstein and Paddington scribe Jason Hazeley, with Richard Ayoade narrating.

Altitude and Brouhaha Entertainment are forging the series version of a book that has sold 15 million copies worldwide and been translated into 50 languages, with a view to turning it into a long-running entertainment franchise.

Published two decades ago, the book sees celebrated writer Bryson take on popular science by tackling issues such as the size of the universe and the development of the human race, and setting them out in layman’s terms. A large part of the book is devoted to relating humorous stories about the scientists behind the research and their sometimes eccentric behaviours. Narrated by Ayoade, the animation will tell these stories spanning centuries and continents, time and space, and the abstract and the real, exploring triumphs of imagination.

“I feel very lucky to have such a gifted and distinguished group of creative talents turning my words into screen magic,” said Bryson, whose other hits include Notes from a Small Island and Bill Bryson’s African Diary.

Altitude Co-CEO Will Clarke said: “Bill’s brilliant mind expands beyond the hugely impressive number of books he’s sold and is arguably a global brand in its own right. We know from broadcasters and streamers that audiences are hungry to explore and learn more about our universe whilst being entertained and our series – which we envisage as a long-running entertainment franchise – is the perfect way to deliver that.”

Weinstein and Hazeley will lead on the delivery of the project. Weinstein is a former Simpsons showrunner whose other credits include Futurama and Mission Hill, while Hazeley wrote on both Paddington movies.

The series concept was devised by Hazeley and Paul Sowerbutts, EPs are Weinstein, Hazeley, Sowerbutts and Clarke for Altitude, Troy Lum and Andrew Mason for Brouhaha.

Altitude is currently in development on a Wombles remake and an adaptation of astronaut Chris Hadfield’s cold war novel The Apollo Murders with Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions.

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