Blanche d’Alpuget’s ‘Birth Of The Plantagenets’ novels optioned

05 September, 2018 by Don Groves

Ironbark Media has optioned film and TV rights to the five novels in Blanche d’Alpuget’s ‘Birth of the Plantagenets’ series.

The first tome ‘The Young Lion’ was published in 2013 and covered Henry II’s rise to power and his marriage to the French Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, hailed by critics as a fast-paced read full of sex, slaughter and subterfuge.


The second, ‘The Lion Rampant’, chronicles the ascension of Thomas Becket to chancellor of England and his falling out with the king.

Ironbark Media was founded last year by Matthew Kelly, formerly a lawyer with Screen Australia and Foxtel, and writer/director Mark (Max) Walker, whose credits include Australian Story, Who Do You Think You Are and Grand Designs Australia.

“The story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine is incredible, setting up a dynasty which lasted centuries,” Kelly tells IF. “Audiences naturally gravitate toward medieval, historical stories, but that’s not enough. It needs heart, imagination and, in this case, political drama.

“Blanche has provided all of that in spades. There’s also the social currency permeating the books where big issues of the day were the tension between church and state, the treatment of women and individuals who believed they were born to rule.”

The producers have yet to hire a writer but have been collaborating with Victorian writer Rachel Kelly (no relation). They have yet to decide whether to turn the novels into miniseries or feature films.

Kelly says they will pitch broadcasters after they have built out the characters and stories. The deal was negotiated with Jeanne Ryckmans at the Cameron Creswell Agency.

Ironbark’s first production is Queen & Country Australia, an online six-part travel series hosted by US travel writer Jesse Archer, which explores the lives of five rural women as they fiercely compete to be crowned Beef Week Queen.

Kelly acknowledges it is difficult to monetize online series but says: “We think Jesse Archer has potential to be a bona fide star so it’s as much about testing out a new idea and showcasing his talent.”

The company is also developing a contemporary drama miniseries based around Schoolies Week and Walker has written The Peacemaker of Afghanistan, a feature film based on the true story of Jim Ryan, an Aussie UN worker in that war.

In 2005 Ryan put his life on the line to free a Taliban suspect, who had once tried to kill him, from Bagram prison. That project has been supported by Film Victoria and the Scripted Ink initiative.