CBC and SundanceTV Greenlight Tainted Blood Miniseries Unspeakable
CBC and SundanceTV have greenlit a new eight-part drama miniseries Unspeakable, focused on the tainted blood scandal in Canada in the early 1980s. Created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis), who will also serve as showrunner and executive producer, the project is produced by Coopers Mezo Entertainment and will be filmed in Canada in early 2018 for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S., with AMC Studios managing worldwide distribution outside of Canada.
Based on first-person experience and two non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, Unspeakable chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were unnecessarily infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars of compensation to victims. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood.
“I am thrilled and, frankly, somewhat daunted by the opportunity to tell this story that has deeply affected so many people,” said Cooper. “CBC is the perfect place for this project and I am grateful to Sally Catto and everyone at the broadcaster for their support. I am also extremely excited to have SundanceTV and AMC Studios on board and thankful to Jan Diedrichsen of SundanceTV and Rick Olshansky and Stefan Reinhardt of AMC Studios for their enthusiasm for the project.”
“Unspeakable is a powerful, character-driven drama that will shine a light on a dark chapter in our recent history through Roberts passionate and deeply personal storytelling,” said Sally Catto, general manager, programming, CBC. “We look forward to partnering with SundanceTV and AMC Studios to bring this remarkable original Canadian story to audiences at home and around the world.”
“SundanceTV has a reputation for bringing our viewers the best programming from around the world, and the ability to do that with a creative partner like Rob, who has done such remarkable work with our sister network BBC America, is something truly special,” said Jan Diedrichsen, General Manager, SundanceTV and Sundance Now. “This drama, while set in Canada, really is the kind of story that will resonate around the world and, while it took place 30 years ago, is very current in its themes and ability to capture audiences today.”
A CBC and SundanceTV original series, Unspeakable is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. Cooper is currently showrunning season two of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for BBC America, Netflix and AMC Studios.