At a memorial service for science-fiction legend, Sir Terry Pratchett, friend and collaborator Neil Gaiman announced that he would be adapting their co-authored novel Good Omens for the small screen. Pratchett passed away last year, after battling a rare form of Alzheimer's disease.
Good Omens was released in 1990, and was the result of a collaboration between Gaiman and Pratchett. It is a terrifically written black comedy, about the Antichrist as a child, and the efforts of a demon and an angel to prevent the end of the world. There have been many attempts to adapt the work for the screen in the past, but financing and other concerns have prevented the project from occurring. The closest it came to an on-screen adaptation was in 2002, with Terry Gilliam directing and Johnny Depp and Robin Williams in lead roles. Unfortunately, the pitch for financing was made just a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, keeping studios away from the "hilarious movie about the Antichrist and the end of the world".
The work was adapted as a radio play in 2014 by BBC Radio 4, at Gaiman's insistence, and featured brief cameos by both authors. Gaiman had asked the BBC to air the radio play, because he wanted "Terry to be able to enjoy this while he's still able to".
After Pratchett's death, Gaiman stated that he would not be adapting the novel for any future works. He and Pratchett had a longstanding agreement that they would only work on Good Omens related projects together; one that Gaiman intended on keeping. "Everything that was ever written - bookmarks and tiny little things" would be the result of them working together, Gaiman explained. "Everything was a collaboration". Even when asked by Pratchett's longtime friend and assistant, Rob Wilkins, on their way home from seeing Pratchett shortly before his death, Gaiman refused. Wilkins asked because the adaptation "required love, it required patience".
So what changed?
As it turns out, Pratchett had left a letter for Gaiman, to be read after his death. The letter asked Gaiman to write an adaption of the work himself, and to ignore their previous arrangement. The letter was delivered to Gaiman by Wilkins. Gaiman recalls that "at that point, I think I said, 'you bastard, yes".
Wilkins also gave Gaiman one of Pratchett's hats, which he wore for the service.https://twitter.com/neilhimself/status/720735039873359872 https://twitter.com/neilhimself/status/720758855999819777
A few other Pratchett adaptations were announced at the memorial, including a feature film version of his 1987 work Mort, to be written by Terry Rossio of Shrek fame. Wee Free Men, a 2003 novel, will be adapted by Pratchett's daughter and fantastic writer in her own right, Rhianna Pratchett. His short story, Troll Bridge, which was funded by fans, will also be released as a film, and a fantasy police procedural set in Pratchett's Discworld universe called The Watch was also confirmed.