EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Peter Safran’s The Safran Company and Temple producer Hera Pictures have taken the film and TV rights to a book about a notorious gang of female thieves, who plied their trade on the streets of south London.
The production companies will adapt Brian Macdonald’s true crime story Alice Diamond And The Forty Elephants, which examines the travails of Diamond’s all-female crime syndicate, based in the Elephant and Castle region of Britain’s capital city in the 1900s.
Her lawless gang of young women — famed for their good looks and fine clothing — traveled the UK stealing silks, gems, and furs from unsuspecting victims. They made off with their stash in specially made clothing and spent their illicit gains in a whirlwind of excess.
Diamond herself was born the eldest of eight children in a workhouse hospital and rose to become the cleverest shoplifter in Britain. Macdonald researched her story partly through his family archive, as his ancestors were major London gangsters and contemporaries of the Forty Elephants.
Hera Pictures founder Liza Marshall said: “The story of Alice Diamond and her gang is quite extraordinary; they were well organised and ruthless. It’s rich territory for a drama and we can’t wait to find the perfect showrunner. The fact that it’s all true makes it all the more exciting. It turns out it wasn’t just the men doing bad things.”
The Safran Company has a first-look producing deal at Warner Bros and recently sold John Cena and Idris Elba action thriller Heads Of State to Amazon Studios. Hera has recently been in production on Season 2 of its Sky Mark Strong series Temple.
The Safran Company and Hera snapped up the Alice Diamond And The Forty Elephants rights direct from publisher Milo Books.