Entertainment

Steamy Jilly Cooper novel to be adapted for new Disney+ series Rivals

The series will follow the escapades of Cooper's notorious lothario Rupert Campbell-Black.

A novel from Jilly Cooper’s raunchy Rutshire Chronicles series is set to be adapted for an “outrageously bold” Disney+ series.

The 85-year-old author is best known for her often erotic romance novels which capture the drama and excess of Britain’s affluent elite.

Rivals, published in 1988 and one of 10 novels from the Rutshire Chronicles series, will be adapted into an eight-part series of the same name, featuring Cooper’s notorious lothario Rupert Campbell-Black.

Historical romance series Bridgerton, which was also based on a series of novels, was launched on Netflix in 2020 and was an instant hit thanks to its raunchy scenes and extravagant costumes.

Rivals will explore the cutthroat world of independent television in 1986 as a long-standing rivalry between two of fictional Rutshire County’s most powerful men is on the cusp of boiling over.

Former Olympian, MP and womaniser Rupert will lock horns with neighbour Tony Baddingham, controller of the independent TV franchise Corinium Television.

As the rivalry intensifies, secrets, alliances and snatched liaisons see wives, lovers, colleagues, friends and families drawn into the battle.

Cooper will be an executive producer on the series, along with Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Alexander Lamb, Felicity Blunt and Laura Wade.

Cooper said: “I am so, so excited. Throughout my childhood, my favourite word was ‘Disney’, and by a miraculous coincidence, greater-than-ever Disney are joining forces with an utterly brilliant drama company, Happy Prince, to turn my novel into a TV series.

“I know they will bring the boardroom battles and love triangles of my characters to life – particularly those of my devastatingly handsome hero.

“I cannot wait to see who will be stepping into his shoes… let the hunt for our Rupert Campbell-Black commence!”

In addition to the mischief, larger-than-life characters and steamy love stories, Disney has said Rivals will “bring a 2020s lens to the 1980s, offering a raw exploration of a complicated moment in British history when class, race, sex, wealth and sexual liberation meant that, for the very privileged few, there were no limits to what they could achieve”.

Writer and executive producer Treadwell-Collins, best known for his work on EastEnders, said: “I have been wooing Jilly Cooper since I first started working in television.

“Jilly’s iconic novels’ razor-sharp observations on class, sex, love and what it means to be British resonate even more today than when Jilly wrote them in the 1980s.

“I’m so excited to bring Rivals to the screen, entertain fans of the beloved Cooperverse and introduce a whole new generation to the sweeping love stories, social satire and biting wit of Rutshire.”

The first novel in the Rutshire Chronicles series, Riders, was adapted into a TV film in 1993, starring Marcus Gilbert as Rupert Campbell-Black.

The new series will premiere on Disney+ in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific and Star+ in Latin America.