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Stephen Fry and Dougie Henshall to star in Doors Open

13th April 2012 Print

‘Not only a crime with no victims but one that appears never to have been committed’

A self-made millionaire, an art professor and a banker come together to undertake an audacious art heist in Doors Open, a fast paced, warm and witty drama set in the underbelly of Edinburgh’s world of corporate banking and fine art.

Based on the best-selling book by one of the UK’s most prolific and successful writers, Ian Rankin, Doors Open has been commissioned as a two hour film by ITV and will be produced by Sprout Pictures, the company founded by Stephen Fry and Gina Carter.

Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV says: “Doors Open is full of excitement with many twists and turns and it is as much of a love story as an art heist. We have an A list cast lined up to bring Ian Rankin’s great characters to life.”

The story follows Mike Mackenzie, played by Dougie Henshall (Collision, Primeval, The Silence), a self-made businessman with too much time on his hands. Bored by the comfort of his millions and grieving for the woman who walked out on him five years previously, he’s got an adventurous side just waiting to get him into trouble. When he hears the love of his life, Laura Stanton, art consultant and auctioneer, has returned to Edinburgh, his whole world is turned upside down and he’d risk anything to get her back.
After an evening’s drinking with close friends art expert Professor Gissing played by Stephen Fry (Kingdom, Bones, Sherlock Holmes, The Hobbit); and banker Allan Cruickshank, Mike dreams up a plot to rip-off one of the most high-profile targets in the country – Edinburgh’s private art collection owned by a national bank. Incensed by wealthy patrons hiding works of art away in private collections, the trio devises a plan to swap priceless masterpieces stored in the gallery’s warehouse with brilliantly accurate forgeries.

Fortuitously, Edinburgh’s buildings of special interest are open to the public for a single day under the ‘Doors Open’ scheme. It’s the nation’s celebration of public access, the perfect opportunity for these three to pull off the perfect art heist and for Mike it’s too good a challenge to pass up. It might just help him to get Laura back into his life.

Mike enlists the help of Charlie Calloway, old school friend and small time gangster, to beef up their criminal know-how, but Charlie’s involvement comes at a price:  he brings the unwelcome attention of some less-than-friendly outlandish gangsters. By the time the gallery warehouse doors are flung open to the public, there’s no going back.

Doors Open has been adapted from Ian Rankin’s novel by James Mavor and Sandi Toksvig. Marc Evans (Collision, Hunky Dory) is directing, Jon Finn (Billy Elliot, My Little Eye) is producing and Executive Producers are Sprout Pictures’ Managing Director Gina Carter, Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig. The Creative Producer is Pip Broughton and Head of Production is Zoe Rocha. 

Gina Carter said: “These are exciting times for Sprout Pictures. We had the good fortune of having inspirational director Marc Evans on board right from the start of developing this unique film for ITV.  We are thrilled to be starting the shoot very soon.”

Stephen Fry said: “I picked up Ian Rankin’s breathless and ingenious thriller Doors Open at an airport a year or so back and as I read I just knew it would make a thrilling, charming and original TV drama. I also adored the character of Professor Gissing and a shamefully vain part of me refused to see anyone else in the role. I am so thrilled that ITV were of the same opinion and that all of us at Sprout Pictures have managed to put together what I believe will be an entertaining, suspenseful art heist thriller which will appeal to audiences at home and abroad.” 

Filming in Edinburgh begins on 23 April for five weeks. Further cast announcements will be made shortly.

Doors Open Days are coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and take place every weekend in September throughout Scotland. For more information visit