Entitled “Madiba”, Mandela’s clan name, the series “will take a broad view of the inner passions and outside forces that guided him,” they said in a statement.
With a budget of $30 million (24 million euros), the project will explore Mandela’s relationship with his mother, his political activism, imprisonment, rise as political leader and election as South Africa’s first black president.
The producers did not say who would play the democracy icon, whose Nelson Mandela Foundation said it supported the undertaking and was helping with research.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winner was imprisoned for 27 years for his fight against white oppression in South Africa. He was freed in 1990 and elected president four years later.
South African production house Out of Africa, Canada’s Blue Ice Films and Britain’s Left Bank Pictures will film mainly on-site in South Africa, the statement said.
Grandson Kweku Mandela, who is co-producing the series, said it would seek to portray “Mandela the man” instead of “Mandela the saint.”
Emmy- and BAFTA-winning writer Nigel Williams, acclaimed for the miniseries Elizabeth I with Helen Mirren in the title role, is penning the six one-hour television episodes.
The screenplay will be based on two Mandela books — his autobiographical “Conversations with Myself” and a book of authorised quotations, “Nelson Mandela by Himself”.
Producers include Left Bank Pictures’ Andy Harries and Marigo Kehoe, famed for the Oscar-winning film “The Queen”, which also starred Mirren.
Public interest in Mandela, 93, has remained strong throughout his imprisonment, political career and retirement.
Several films have been made about his life, notably Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” (2009) with Morgan Freeman in the title role, and “Goodbye Bafana” (2007), with Joseph Fiennes playing a jail warden opposite Dennis Haysbert’s Mandela.
The producers said they have a short-list of high-profile directors. – ANP/AFP