Broadcast Hot Picks: Red Eye

Red Eye is the first thriller to come from Bad Wolf, which is best known for its work in the fantasy genre – His Dark Materials; Doctor Who; A Discovery Of Witches – or the genre-defying I Hate Suzie.

But in a sense, it’s no more grounded than any of these – after all, at least a third of the action takes place in the sky.

Dr Matthew Nolan (Richard Armitage) is being sent on a red-eye flight to China after becoming caught up – seemingly unknowingly – in the death of a young woman. On board, however, inexplicable deaths raise suspicions and pull him into an unlikely alliance with Hana Li, the police officer escorting him.

This plays out alongside the response from MI5 and Whitehall, and a storyline involving Hana’s sister Jess, an aspiring journalist who is uncovering an explosive health scandal.

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) executive vice-president, distribution & networks, EMEA, Mark Young invokes the likes of high-octane streamer dramas Hijack and The Night Agent. Describing the ITVX six-parter as a “thrilling, hugely bingeable, fast-moving, edge-of-the- seat, cat-and-mouse drama”, he says: “We’re excited to unleash it on the world.”

Bad Wolf and SPT delivered fantasy drama The Winter King to ITVX in 2023 and Young is hopeful that Red Eye can make a similar splash.

He’s confident that the series’ trio of leads, familiar genre and international narrative make it sellable in a wide range of territories.

Armitage is a hugely bankable name – Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once, in which he also stars, has done big numbers for Netflix in the past couple of months – and Lesley Sharp lends a seal of quality as recently promoted MI5 director Madeleine Delaney.

Meanwhile, the presence of Jing Lusi (Crazy Rich Asians; Gangs Of London) as Hana and Jemma Moore (Host; Lockwood & Co) as Jess should help open doors in South-East Asia.

“We see a lot of co-viewing for this as it’s got something for everyone. We’re taking it market by market as it can easily play free-to-air or as a binge watch,” says Young.

There’s pedigree behind the scenes too: Red Eye marks the TV debut of screenwriter Peter A Dowling, who is no stranger to mid-air action thrillers, having penned the Jodie Foster-starring 2005 movie Flightplan.

SPT is making a huge play for Red Eye at the London TV Screenings following months of talks with potential buyers.

It will be sat on a slate alongside other premium titles, such as period crime drama Dope Girls (also from Bad Wolf), Left Bank’s Paramount+ original Insomnia, starring Vicky McClure, and Blueprint Pictures’ A Very Royal Scandal for Amazon Prime Video.

“Over the past few years, we’ve realised that, with the amount of content out there, we have to be super proactive,” Young explains.

“Because we are an independent studio that relies on our partnerships, we are working with our clients very early on, to help them understand what we’ve got coming down the pipeline. We want to take them on a journey so that when we actually unveil something like this, they’re excited to see it.”