The Final Round, the memoir of five-time female world boxing champion Jane Couch MBE, has been optioned by leading UK drama studio Lookout Point and TeamAkers Productions, the production company recently set up by the BAFTA winning actor Suranne Jones and writer Laurence Akers.
Jane Couch was a formidable figure in the UK in the 90s both in and out of the ring. At a time when it was still illegal for women to box in the UK, Jane’s guts and determination paved the way for the huge success that the sport now enjoys. Her memoir charts her gruelling, yet inspirational progress from a tough upbringing in the fishing town of Fleetwood to top boxing venues all over the world.
At the heart of her story is the legal battle she waged against the UK Boxing Board of Control, who only 20 years ago still insisted women were too psychologically unstable to box. Refusing to be marginalised Couch teamed up with two other fearless women, her solicitor Sarah Leslie and Dinah Rose QC, described by Couch as the best sex-discrimination barrister in the country. They won the case allowing women to box in the UK but Jane’s battle had just begun. She was portrayed by some quarters of the press as a freak and a monster and was horribly exploited by the people around her. Despite all this, she kept on fighting.
The adaptation will be developed for television by Lookout Point’s Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester, alongside Suranne Jones, star of Gentleman Jack and Doctor Foster, and Laurence Akers, Managing Partner of TeamAkers Productions. The production team will be conducting a search for a bright young female actor to play Jane and Suranne will also star alongside her. A writer is yet to be attached.
On having her memoir adapted for television Couch said: “After all the struggles I went through in my career, the fights in the ring, with the media and in the courts, it’s great that my story will be seen by a whole new audience and the people who helped me along the way, like Sarah and Dinah, will get the recognition they deserve. Women’s boxing has come a long way with Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams OBE becoming household names, but there’s still so much more that needs to be done. Hopefully, my story will help.”
Suranne Jones, Managing Partner of TeamAkers, said: “As soon as I met Jane, I knew I wanted to tell her story from her perspective and shine a light on this amazing woman who paved the way so others in her position could succeed. TeamAkers cannot wait to get started on developing The Final Round and we’re thrilled to be working with Faith and the team at Lookout Point — we know it’s going to make fantastic television.”
Laurence Akers, Managing Partner of TeamAkers, added: ‘Jane’s story is one that needs to be told and now is the time to tell it. It’s incredible that women weren’t allowed to box in this country until 1998 and Jane’s treatment by the media around that time was draconian. She gave her entire life to boxing and it almost destroyed her. Her courage and fight are an inspiration and I believe this will truly be a landmark television series.’
Faith Penhale, CEO of Lookout Point, said: “At Lookout Point we have a fantastic legacy of telling the true stories of pioneering women from the likes of Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack to the Brontë sisters in To Walk Invisible and Jane Couch’s life achievements place her squarely alongside these. The strength and dignity with which Jane fought for her right to stand equally alongside men in her chosen sport is truly humbling and we are thrilled to be able to work with her, Suranne and TeamAkers to bring this inspiring tale to screens.”
Lookout Point, which is owned by BBC Studios, is one of the UK’s leading producers of television drama, known for delivering series with scale, ambition, and global impact. Their most recent show is Gentleman Jack, created by Sally Wainwright for BBC One and HBO, which has been recommissioned for a second series. 2019 also saw their epic adaptation of Les Misérables from Andrew Davies. Looking forward, the company has just finished shooting the first ever screen adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy on location in India, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), and is soon to deliver the latest four episode instalment of Last Tango In Halifax for BBC One.