‘Grantchester’ Actor Tom Brittney, Corestar Media & ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Author Adapting Story Of Woman Accused Of Murder After Suicide Pact With Terminally Ill Husband

EXCLUSIVE: The story of a woman who was accused of murder after entering into a suicide pact with her terminally ill husband is being adapted for the screen in the UK.

Corestar Media has acquired the dramatic rights to Mavis Eccleston’s story, who took the agonizing decision to end her life alongside husband of six decades Dennis, who was in terrible pain from cancer.

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The feature, Goodnight Darling, will follow how the 79-year-old Mavis was arrested and tried for murder, only to be unanimously found not guilty, and then began a campaign with her family to change the law to allow people to take the choice of assisted dying.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel author Deborah Moggach, whose mother served time in prison in an assisted dying case, has written a script. The story could be made as a film or a TV series, said a rep for UK drama indie Corestar.

Grantchester actor Tom Brittney brought the story to Corestar after reading about the Ecclestons’ case. He will be an executive producer on the project.

“When I first met Mavis and her family, I was heartbroken at their horrific ordeal,” he said. “I’m honoured that the Ecclestons have allowed us to tell their story, and to share with a wider audience, in the hope that reform is brought about so that no one ever has to endure the pain that Mavis and their family faced.”

Joy Munns, daughter of Mavis and Dennis Eccleston, said: “The Eccleston family are really happy to be working with Tom and the Corestar team on this drama. They have showed so much empathy with our cause and have really listened to all that we went through and how our mom was treated at 79 years of age.

“We hope Goodnight Darling will bring awareness on how broken and barbaric our outdated law is and that it will instigate a change in law.”

Corestar’s Ross Murray and Richard Hart will be executive producer alongside Brittney.

Murray said the emotive subject required a “delicate hand” and praised Moggach, whose novel was turned into a 2011 British comedy-drama starring the likes of Maggie Smith, Dev Patel and Judi Dench, for telling the story “with great sensitivity, empathy and love.”

Corestar Media MD Hart added: “As a company we are very fortunate to be working on a number of fantastic projects with some amazing talent, all of which we are incredibly passionate about. However, Goodnight Darling is something very special for us, it is one of those stories you feel absolutely compelled to tell.

“Having secured the funding for a script and working with Deborah Moggach, Corestar are now in talks with potential partners to help bring the Ecclestons’ story to the screen.”

This marks the latest scripted drama project out of the UK that shines a spotlight on a live, real-life issue. ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office has become one of the most-watched series of recent years in the UK and sparked the government into action, and Deadline recently revealed the commercial network is working with Criminal Justice writer Peter Moffat on a series about Britain’s contaminated blood scandal.

Ellie Ball, from assisted dying organization Dignity in Dying, said: “Drama can be such a powerful vehicle for change. This project will shine a light on the devastation caused by the blanket ban on assisted dying and the urgent need for reform at a critical time for this movement.

“Mavis and Dennis’ tragic story exposes how we criminalise compassion in this country in the absence of an assisted dying law. Without a safe, legal option to die on their own terms, every year hundreds of terminally ill people like Dennis end their own lives, often in secret and behind closed doors.”

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