Kaliane Bradley & Alice Birch

The Ministry of Time – BBC commissions new novel adaptation

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The debut novel from writer Kaliane Bradley deals with a government initiative involving temporal ‘expats’. 

Yesterday, the BBC announced a raft of new drama commissions. They include a drama made from James Graham’s hit play Dear England, which follows Gareth Southgate’s transformation of the national football team, and two more series of the Belfast set police drama Blue Lights.

However, one of the titles which jumped out for us was The Ministry of Time. The series is a six-part adaptation of the highly-anticipated forthcoming debut novel from Kaliane Bradley. It follows a government project testing the viability of time travel and has been adapted by Alice Birch (Dead Ringers).

Here’s the synopsis:

The Ministry of Time, a newly established government department, is gathering ‘expats’ from across history in an experiment to test the viability of time-travel. Commander Graham Gore (an officer on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition) is one such figure rescued from certain death – alongside an army captain from the fields of the Somme, a plague victim from the 1600s, a widow from revolutionary France, and a soldier from the seventeenth century.

The Ministry of Time

The expats are placed with 21st century liaisons, known as ‘bridges’, in unlikely flatshares. Gore has to learn about contemporary life from scratch: from air travel to industrial warfare, from feminism to Spotify, from cinema to indoor plumbing; and he must negotiate cohabiting with the ambitious modern woman who works as his bridge. After an awkward beginning, the pair start to find pleasure and comfort in each other’s company, developing a relationship that is simultaneously tender, intense and profoundly unprofessional; and the expats, adrift in a new era, form friendships that ground and support them in the lonely 21st century, where they have outlived everyone they ever knew and loved.

When a deeper conspiracy at the Ministry begins to reveal itself, the bridge must reckon with what she does next. Will she save or sacrifice the exiled misfits she has come to care for so deeply?

The series comes from production company A24 (Beef, Dreaming Whilst Black). Executive producers are A24, Alice Birch, and Jo McClellan for the BBC.

The Ministry of Time‘s author Kaliane Bradley says:

“I could not be more excited for The Ministry of Time to find a new home on screen, with the dream-come-true combination of A24, the BBC and brilliant Alice Birch. I’m sure Graham Gore would have been delighted too, once someone had explained to him what all that meant.”

Kaliane Bradley & Alice Birch
Kaliane Bradley (Image: Robin Christian) and Alice Birch (Image: Georgina Ower)

Screenwriter Alice Birch adds:

“I’m so thrilled to be adapting Kaliane’s beautiful, funny, joyful, moving, intelligent book with the BBC and A24. Reading it was an exhilarating, thrilling and heartbreaking experience and I’m so excited to bring this story to the screen.”

We’ll keep you posted on The Ministry of Time which will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Meanwhile, the novel is due out June 2024 from publisher Hodder and Stoughton.