BOOKS: Booker Prize-winning novel Shuggie Bain will be made into a TV series

By Bill Heaney

Booker Prize-winning novel Shuggie Bain will be made into a television series, the BBC have confirmed this week.

Written by Douglas Stuart, the book tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow.

The programme will be filmed in Scotland, adapted for BBC One and iPlayer and produced by US film company A24.

Stuart said he was “thrilled” the Bain family would be brought to the screen.

Shuggie Bain cover

He said: “I am deeply grateful to the BBC and A24 for their belief in Shuggie Bain.

“I’m thrilled to bring the Bain family to the screen and the opportunity to expand on my novel and to bring new threads to the story, exploring hardships and struggles as well as the compassion, humour, and resilience that is so central to the Scottish spirit.”

The author has previously described the novel as a love story between mother Agnes Bain and her gay son Shuggie.

It details Agnes’ descent into despair and her struggles with alcoholism following the breakdown of her marriage.

While most of her children are driven away by her deterioration, Shuggie remains to help – while suffering huge personal problems of his own.

Shuggie Bain was inspired by Stuart’s own childhood in Glasgow during the Margaret Thatcher era.

Born in Glasgow in 1976, Stuart’s father walked out when he was four and died when he was eight.

Douglas Stuart as a child
Douglas Stuart as a child in the 1980s

He and his older sister and brother were brought up by his mother, an alcoholic Stuart described as having “very serious mental health issues”.

His debut novel claimed the 2020 Booker Prize and became an international best seller, sold in 39 countries.

Meanwhile, his second novel, Young Mungo, is a gay love story about two working class teenagers set against an often violent backdrop of Glasgow’s housing estates in the 1990s.

Gaynor Holmes, executive producer for the BBC, said: “Shuggie Bain is an extraordinary novel, with all the makings of extraordinary television. It’s a real honour to be working with the immensely talented Douglas Stuart to bring his vision to the BBC.”

  • Douglas Stuart can be seen being interviewed now by Alan Yentob on the BBC i player.

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