The Watch (TV series)

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The Watch
Police procedural
Created byTerry Pratchett
Based onAnkh-Morpork City Watch
Developed bySimon Allen[1]
ComposerRuss Davies
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Executive producersSimon Allen
Ben Donald
Richard Stokes
Rob Wilkins
Craig Viveiros
Phil Collinson
ProducerJohann Knobel
Running timeca. 40 minutes per Episode
Production companiesBBC Studios Drama Productions
Original release
NetworkBBC America
Release3 January (2021-01-03) –
14 February 2021 (2021-02-14)

The Watch is a fantasy police procedural television programme inspired by the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from the Discworld series of fantasy novels by Terry Pratchett. The series, developed by BBC Studios for BBC America, premiered on 3 January 2021 and was released on BBC iPlayer on 1 July 2021.

Setting and plot[edit]

The series is inspired by[3] the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from the Discworld series of fantasy novels by Terry Pratchett. Set in the fictional Discworld's principal city of Ankh-Morpork, The Watch was described by Terry Pratchett in 2012 as a "Pratchett-style CSI";[4] it was to have an episodic storyline, following the format of a "crime of the week" as tackled by the city's police force under the command of Sam Vimes.[5] In 2018, Narrativia described it as a "punk rock thriller".[1]



No.Title [9]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date [9] Viewers
1"A Near Vimes Experience"Craig ViveirosSimon Allen3 January 2021 (2021-01-03) (US)[a]0.274[10]
Captain Sam Vimes' life in the City Watch is changed forever when a figure from his past returns to Ankh-Morpork. 20 years ago, Vimes watched his street brother and gang-leader Carcer Dun fall from a fatal height. Somehow, Carcer is back.
2"Ook"Craig ViveirosSimon Allen3 January 2021 (2021-01-03) (US)0.274[10]
Using the policing of Constable Carrot, the Watch connects Carcer's evil plan to strange goings-on at the magical institution called Unseen University. Perhaps a missing library book has something to do with the dragon attacks in the city.
3"The What?"Brian KellySimon Allen10 January 2021 (2021-01-10) (US)0.248[11]
As fear of the dragon keeps people off the streets, The Watch must heist The Assassins' Guild, the city's most secretive and dangerous institution, in a desperate effort to find the precious magical artefact known as Gawain before Carcer.
4"Twilight Canyons"Brian KellyJoy Wilkinson & Simon Allen17 January 2021 (2021-01-17) (US)0.242[12]
Carcer is willing to do anything to find the sword for Gawain; the Watch is close on his tail, following him to Twilight Canyons, a place where the elderly residents await death; DEATH patiently waits for them to draw their last breaths.
5"Not on My Watch"Brian KellyCatherine Tregenna24 January 2021 (2021-01-24) (US)0.185[13]
The Watch have the sword, and with it they could wield the force of the Noble Dragon. Vimes would much rather no one had power on that scale. The Watch must trek through the Unreal Estate to destroy the sword in a magical lake. Carcer isn't far behind.
6"The Dark in The Dark"Emma SullivanSimon Allen & Amrou Al-Kadhi31 January 2021 (2021-01-31) (US)0.233[14]
In the race against Carcer for the second mystical artefact, Cheery, Angua, and Carrot venture into the Mines of Tak, Cheery must confront the darkness in her past. Vimes and Sybil defend the besieged Watch House from Doctor Cruces and her Assassins.
7"Nowhere in the Multiverse"Emma SullivanSimon Allen & Ed Hime7 February 2021 (2021-02-07) (US)0.143[15]
Vimes wakes up with more than the usual hangover. He's slipped into an alternate universe where he's a prisoner in the middle of a jailbreak. In Ankh-Morpork, the alternate-version of Vimes is leading The Watch straight into Carcer's trap.
8"Better to Light a Candle"[16]Emma SullivanSimon Allen14 February 2021 (2021-02-14) (US)0.130[17]
Carcer's got everything he needs to control the Noble Dragon and destroy Ankh-Morpork. With hysteria on the streets and DEATH preparing for a very busy day, can The Watch, this band of misfits, step up and save the city from annihilation?



The Watch was announced in 2011 as under development by Prime Focus Productions, which previously created three two-part television adaptations of Discworld novels.[18] It was later reported to be produced by Pratchett's own TV production company, Narrativia, which he founded in 2012 and which was led by Rod Brown, the erstwhile head of Prime Focus.[19] In 2012, the series was variously reported to be written – under Pratchett's oversight – by either Terry Jones and Gavin Scott,[19] or by Guy Burt,[20] and to have a budget of either £13 to £15 million,[19] or £26 million,[20] for its projected run of thirteen 60-minute episodes, with Pratchett's daughter Rhianna as co-writer.[21] In October 2016, after Pratchett's death, Rhianna Pratchett said in an interview that the project was still ongoing,[22] but in 2019, announced she had not been involved in the project "for many years".[23]

In March 2018, Deadline Hollywood reported that BBC Studios was developing The Watch as a six-part series and as the basis of a "returnable franchise".[24] On 30 October 2018, BBC America announced that it had ordered an eight-episode series of The Watch written by Simon Allen[25][26] together with Joy Wilkinson, Catherine Tregenna, Amrou Al-Khadi and Ed Hime.[6] Hilary Simon and Phil Collinson were the executive producers;[27][28] the director was Craig Viveiros.[6] Narrativia retained an executive producer credit but was not involved creatively.[29] The series premiered on 3 January 2021.[30][5]


Richard Dormer was cast in the role of Sam Vimes in September 2019. Adam Hugill, Jo Eaton-Kent, Marama Corlett, Lara Rossi, and Sam Adewunmi also joined the cast the same day.[6] The next month, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet joined the cast, as Lord Vetinari and the Archchancellor of Unseen University, respectively, as well as Ingrid Oliver as Doctor Cruces and Ruth Madeley as Throat.[7] In 2019, the series announced it would be recasting several major male characters as women.[31] Joe Vaz was later cast as Urdo van Pew.[8]


In September 2014, Pratchett's agent Colin Smythe said that the script was in development and shooting would commence in 2015.[32] After Pratchett's death in 2015, his assistant Rob Wilkins said that pre-production was still ongoing, but that no further announcements would be made until filming had begun.[33] Filming began in Cape Town, South Africa.[34]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Watch has a 'rotten' score of 53%, an average rating of 5.9/10, based on 19 reviews. The website's consensus states: "Despite fantastic production design and a solid cast, The Watch simply doesn't capture the wonder, whimsy, and world building of Terry Pratchett's beloved novels."[35] Kiko Martinez of Variety dubbed it a 'tonal mess' and stated, "the show's generic worldbuilding, one-dimensional characterizations and lack of consistent wit will disappoint the kind of niche audience it’s trying to attract."[36] The Hollywood Reporter praised the show's "imaginative world-building" and humour, but said, "the plots are crushingly rote and uninvolving" and found them too familiar.[37] Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Ed Power cautioned that "The Watch takes everything devotees loved about Pratchett: the wryness, the whimsy, the Tolkien-goes-Monty Python setting of Ankh-Morpork. And then chucks it out the window."[38]

Deviations from source material[edit]

Even before the series' release it attracted a large amount of attention for departing from the books' more or less medieval origins, delving into "punk rock" visuals, changing the gender, personality, or origins of characters, and removing some characters completely.[39][40][41] These changes angered some Discworld fans, which was exacerbated when Simon Allen, head writer for the series, failed to mention Terry Pratchett during his post commemorating the end of filming.[42][43] After the 9 October 2020 New York Comic Con panel, Rhianna Pratchett stated it shared "no DNA with my father's Watch",[44] and Neil Gaiman compared the series to "Batman if he's now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat".[45]


  1. ^ "A Near Vimes Experience" was released on December 31, 2020, on AMC+


  1. ^ a b "BBC AMERICA GREENLIGHTS ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES THE WATCH". Narrativia. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Narrativia". Archived from the original on 18 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Terry Pratchett's Discworld the Watch TV Series". Archived from the original on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Terry Pratchett Talks Discworld-Inspired TV Show, New Book Dodger". WIRED magazine. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Watch Releases New Teasers; Matt Berry, Wendell Pierce Join Cast". Bleeding Cool. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Baysinger, Tim (11 September 2019). "Richard Dormer to Star in BBCA's Terry Pratchett Adaptation 'The Watch'". The Wrap. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g White, Peter (19 November 2019). "'The Watch': 'Pennyworth's Anna Chancellor & 'Outlander's James Fleet Join BBC America's Terry Pratchett Adaptation". Deadline. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b The Watch (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb, retrieved 20 April 2021
  9. ^ a b "The Watch – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b Metcalf, Mitch (6 January 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 01.3.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 6 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  11. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (12 January 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.10.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 12 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  12. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (20 January 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.17.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  13. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (26 January 2020). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Thursday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.24.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 26 January 2020.[dead link]
  14. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (2 February 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.31.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  15. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (9 February 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 2.7.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 9 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  16. ^ "TV Schedule Lineup | Listing of Shows & Movies for Today | BBC America".
  17. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (17 February 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 2.14.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 17 February 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  18. ^ Connelly, Brendon (14 March 2011). "Terry Pratchett's Discworld Being Adapted To Crime-Of-The-Week Mystery TV Series". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  19. ^ a b c Kanter, Jake (1 October 2012). "Sir Terry Pratchett launches indie". Broadcast. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  20. ^ a b Shaw-Williams, Hannah (2 October 2012). "More About Terry Pratchett's Discworld TV Show, The Watch". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  21. ^ "Terry Pratchett: My daughter Rhianna will take over the Discworld when I'm gone". New Statesman. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Meet Rhianna Pratchett – The woman behind the Lara Croft backstory". 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  23. ^ Pratchett, Rhianna (10 August 2019). "@rhipratchett on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 25 December 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020. Just to be clear (since I'm asked this a lot) I am not working on The Watch TV series, and haven't been for many years. The show is under the creative control of BBC Studios.
  24. ^ White, Peter (1 March 2018). "Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' Set For TV Adaptation With BBC Studios & Narrativia". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  26. ^ Santangelo, Nick (31 October 2018). "Bbc America Greenlights New Series Based On Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels". IGN. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  27. ^ Nemetz, Dave (31 October 2018). "BBC America to Adapt Discworld Novels With 'Punk Rock Thriller' The Watch". TVLine. Archived from the original on 25 October 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  28. ^ "BBC AMERICA GREENLIGHTS ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES THE WATCH". Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Terry Pratchett novels to get 'absolutely faithful' TV adaptations". 28 April 2020.
  30. ^ "NEW Photo: BBC America's 'The Watch' Starring Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi". BBC America. BBC. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  31. ^ "The new 'Discworld' TV series just gender-flipped several major characters". The Daily Dot. 19 November 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  32. ^ Dalila (26 September 2014). "26. 09. 2014 – NOVINKY OD COLINA SMYTHE, AGENTA TERRYHO PRATCHETTA". Prague. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Městská hlídka – "CSI: Ankh-Morpork" – série 12x1h epizod. Projekt je nastartován, scénář se neustále vylepšuje, natáčet by se mělo buď v Londýně nebo v blízkém okolí. Může se s tím ale začít až v roce 2015 kvůli rozpočtovému plánu BBC. Alt URL
  33. ^ "Editorial". Discworld Monthly. November 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  34. ^ "Extras in Cape Town Wanted for Terry Pratchett's The Watch from the BBC". Bleeding Cool News And Rumors. 29 October 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  35. ^ "The Watch: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  36. ^ Martinez, Kiko (1 January 2021). "'The Watch' Is Uninspired Fantasy Storytelling: TV Review". Variety. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  37. ^ Kang, Inkoo (3 January 2021). "'The Watch': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  38. ^ Power, Ed (1 July 2021). "The Watch, review: Terry Pratchett fans be warned, you will hate this adaptation". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  39. ^ "How Discworld's City Watch Has Been Changed For The TV Show". ScreenRant. 19 January 2020. Archived from the original on 25 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  40. ^ "Terry Pratchett's Discworld The Watch TV Series". Discworld Monthly. Archived from the original on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  41. ^ "Discworld TV Series The Watch First Look Released". TV Shows. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  42. ^ "The Watch Showrunner Forgets to Thank Pratchett and Fans Aren't Happy". GameRant. 14 September 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  43. ^ "Discworld fans are right to be nervous about the BBC's 'punk rock' The Watch". the Guardian. 17 January 2020. Archived from the original on 25 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  44. ^ Pratchett, Rhianna (9 October 2020). "@rhipratchett on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 9 October 2020. Look, I think it's fairly obvious that @TheWatch shares no DNA with my father's Watch. This is neither criticism nor support. It is what it is.
  45. ^ Gaiman, Neil (9 October 2020). "@neilhimself on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 25 December 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020. Yes. But the fan base are fans. And they like the source material because it's the source material they like. So if you do something else, you risk alienating the fans on a monumental scale. It's not Batman if he's now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.

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