Jilly Cooper Rivals TV series: what we want to see on screen

Words by
Andy Morris

31st August 2022

The best-selling novel is coming to Disney next year - here's what we need to see, including a rampant, rakish Rupert Campbell Black

It was the news that shook impolite society: Rivals, Jilly Cooper’s peerless 1988 bonkbuster is finally coming to TV - and to no less a respectable home than Disney+. Produced by Dominic Treadwell Collins (A Very English Scandal) and written by Laura Wade (The Riot Club), the story of two warring independent TV factions has all the right ingredients to make this a much watch, particularly as so much of the novel feels so contemporary. Rivals has exactly the right degree of melodrama and is blessed with so many big characters: but they all work brilliantly. Here are our humble requests of what we’d like to see on screen…

Rupert Campbell Black needs to be the most handsome man in England. He also needs to be a Tory you want to kiss. This is an even bigger ask in the current climate.

The Eighties’ details need to be spot on. Rutshire circa 1986 is not just going to be a matter of having The Communards' Don't Leave Me This Way play while someone ostentatiously smokes Davidoffs.

Rupert and Taggie’s relationship is going to make for uncomfortable viewing. Watching an 18 year old being seduced by a 38 year old MP is going to be an utter squirmfest.

The teenage characters need to have the right kind of entitlement. Consider Sydney Sweeney in The White Lotus but if she went to Roedean.

No bad American or Irish accents: what Jilly gets away with in print, doesn't work quite as well on screen.

Dinner parties need to capture both the sexual tension and great TV mise en scene.

Freddie Jones needs to not be a caricature. He seems to have been written by someone who has never met anyone below the status of upper middle class. His wife, Valerie, is even more complicated.

Patrick’s 21st birthday at the O’Hara House - a palace of disheveled glamour - should be a real showstopper.

Don't even consider adapting Mount.