The Watch (TV series)

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The Watch
Police procedural
Created byTerry Pratchett
Based onAnkh-Morpork City Watch
Written bySimon Allen[1]
Country of originUnited Kingdom / United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
ProducerJohann Knobel
Running time60 minutes
Production companiesBBC Studios, Narrativia[2]
Original networkBBC America
Original releaseJanuary 3, 2021 (2021-01-03) –
present (present)

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.

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 [8]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date [8] Viewers
1"A Near Vimes Experience"Craig ViveirosSimon AllenJanuary 3, 2021 (2021-01-03) (US)[a]0.274[9]
2"Ook"Craig ViveirosSimon AllenJanuary 3, 2021 (2021-01-03) (US)0.274[9]
3"The What?"Brian KellySimon AllenJanuary 10, 2021 (2021-01-10) (US)0.248[10]
4"Twilight Canyons"Brian KellyJoy Wilkinson & Simon AllenJanuary 17, 2021 (2021-01-17) (US)0.242[11]
5"Not on My Watch"Brian KellyCatherine TregennaJanuary 24, 2021 (2021-01-24) (US)0.185[12]
6"The Dark in The Dark"Emma SullivanSimon Allen & Amrou Al-KadhiJanuary 31, 2021 (2021-01-31) (US)0.233[13]
7"Nowhere in the Multiverse"Emma SullivanSimon Allen & Ed HimeFebruary 7, 2021 (2021-02-07) (US)0.143[14]
8"Better to Light a Candle"[15]Emma SullivanSimon AllenFebruary 14, 2021 (2021-02-14) (US)0.130[16]
  1. ^ "A Near Vimes Experience" was released on December 31, 2020, on AMC+


Early plans[edit]

The Watch was announced in 2011 as under development by Prime Focus Productions, which previously created three two-part television adaptations of Discworld novels.[17] 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.[18]

In 2012, the series was variously reported to be written – under Pratchett's oversight – by either Terry Jones and Gavin Scott,[18] or by Guy Burt,[19] and to have a budget of either £13 to £15 million,[18] or £26 million,[19] for its projected run of thirteen 60-minutes episodes, with Pratchett's daughter Rhianna as co-writer.[20]

In September 2014, Pratchett's agent Colin Smythe said that the script was in development and shooting would commence in 2015.[21] 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.[22] In October 2016, Rhianna Pratchett said in an interview that the project was still ongoing,[23] but in 2019, announced she had not been involved in the project "for many years".[24]

BBC series[edit]

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".[25] On October 30, 2018, BBC America announced that it ordered an eight-episode series of The Watch written by Simon Allen[26][27] together with Joy Wilkinson, Catherine Tregenna, Amrou Al-Khadi and Ed Hime.[6] Hilary Simon and Phil Collinson will be executive producers;[28][29] the director is Craig Viveiros.[6] Narrativia retained an executive producer credit but was not involved creatively.[30] Filming began in Cape Town, South Africa;[31] the series premiered on 3 January 2021.[32][5] In 2019, the series announced it would be recasting several major male characters as women.[33]


Even before the series' release it attracted a large amount of controversy and criticism for departing too far from the books' medieval origins, delving too far into "punk rock" visuals, changing the gender, personality or origins of characters, and removing some characters completely.[34][35][36][37] After casting announcements and character details began to be released, the official Terry Pratchett twitter account tweeted Ursula K. Le Guin's article detailing her thoughts on the Earthsea adaptation.[38] These controversies were exacerbated when Simon Allen, head writer for the series, failed to mention Terry Pratchett during his post commemorating the end of filming.[39] After the October 9th 2020 New York Comic Con panel, Rhianna Pratchett stated it shared "no DNA with my father's Watch",[40] and Neil Gaiman compared the series to "Batman if he's now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat".[41]


On Rotten Tomatoes, The Watch has a 'rotten' score of 50%, an average rating of 5.87/10, based on 16 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."[42] 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."[43] 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.[44]


  1. ^ a b "BBC AMERICA GREENLIGHTS ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES THE WATCH". Narrativia. Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  2. ^ "Narrativia". Archived from the original on 2020-01-18.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Terry Pratchett Talks Discworld-Inspired TV Show, New Book Dodger". WIRED magazine. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "The Watch Releases New Teasers; Matt Berry, Wendell Pierce Join Cast". Bleeding Cool. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Baysinger, Tim (11 September 2019). "Richard Dormer to Star in BBCA's Terry Pratchett Adaptation 'The Watch'". The Wrap. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  7. ^ 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 – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Metcalf, Mitch (January 6, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 01.3.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  10. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (January 12, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.10.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (January 20, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.17.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  12. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (January 26, 2020). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Thursday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.24.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 2, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 1.31.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 9, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 2.7.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 17, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 2.14.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  17. ^ 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 2020-12-26. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  18. ^ a b c Kanter, Jake (1 October 2012). "Sir Terry Pratchett launches indie". Broadcast. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  19. ^ a b Shaw-Williams, Hannah (2 October 2012). "More About Terry Pratchett's Discworld TV Show, The Watch". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Terry Pratchett: My daughter Rhianna will take over the Discworld when I'm gone". New Statesman. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ "Editorial". Discworld Monthly. November 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  23. ^ "Meet Rhianna Pratchett – The woman behind the Lara Croft backstory". 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  24. ^ Pratchett, Rhianna (2019-08-10). "@rhipratchett on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2020-12-25. Retrieved 2020-02-17. 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.
  25. ^ White, Peter (1 March 2018). "Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' Set For TV Adaptation With BBC Studios & Narrativia". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  27. ^ Santangelo, Nick (31 October 2018). "Bbc America Greenlights New Series Based On Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels". IGN. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  28. ^ Nemetz, Dave (2018-10-31). "BBC America to Adapt Discworld Novels With 'Punk Rock Thriller' The Watch". TVLine. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  29. ^ "BBC AMERICA GREENLIGHTS ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES THE WATCH". Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ "NEW Photo: BBC America's 'The Watch' Starring Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi". BBC America. BBC. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  33. ^ "The new 'Discworld' TV series just gender-flipped several major characters". The Daily Dot. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  34. ^ "Discworld fans are right to be nervous about the BBC's 'punk rock' The Watch". the Guardian. 2020-01-17. Archived from the original on 2020-12-25. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  35. ^ "How Discworld's City Watch Has Been Changed For The TV Show". ScreenRant. 2020-01-19. Archived from the original on 2020-12-25. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  36. ^ "Terry Pratchett's Discworld The Watch TV Series". Discworld Monthly. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  37. ^ "Discworld TV Series The Watch First Look Released". TV Shows. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  38. ^ Pratchett, Terry (2020-01-17). "@terryandrob on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  39. ^ "The Watch Showrunner Forgets to Thank Pratchett and Fans Aren't Happy". GameRant. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  40. ^ Pratchett, Rhianna (2020-10-09). "@rhipratchett on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-10-09. 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.
  41. ^ Gaiman, Neil (2020-10-09). "@neilhimself on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2020-12-25. Retrieved 2020-10-09. 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.
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^

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