Noyce thriller to tackle failed African coup

26 November, 2014 by Don Groves

A thriller based on a failed attempt to overthrow the government of East African nation Equatorial Guinea, which bizarrely involved Margaret Thatcher’s son, is in the works.

Producer Jeremy Thomas is developing the feature based on Adam Roberts’ book The Wonga Coup for Phillip Noyce to direct.


The protagonist is Simon Mann, a mercenary and a former officer in the British Army who was the alleged mastermind of the planned coup to depose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and replace him with the exiled opposition leader Severo Moto.

The plot was exposed in March 2004 when a plane carrying more than 60 alleged mercenaries including Mann was seized by police in Harare, Zimbabwe, and they were arrested for attempting to send weapons into Equatorial Guinea.

Mann was extradited to Equatorial Guinea where he confessed to his involvement and served 15 months of a 34-year sentence. In 2009 he was pardoned by President Obiang, the man he tried to oust, on ‘humanitarian grounds.'

In an interview with The Independent, Mann revealed he had approached Mark Thatcher to help fund the mission but Thatcher proved to be a ‘weak link,’ especially while he was in jail.

The screenplay of The Wonga Coup is being written by Steven Knight, whose credits include The Hundred-Foot Journey, Peaky Blinders, Locke and Dirty Pretty Things.

“Steven Knight has turned the real story of Simon Mann's failed coup attempt into an edge-of-your-seat thriller,” Noyce tells IF.

Shooting is planned for South Africa and Mozambique beginning next September, with casting to be announced shortly.