Irvine Welsh And Dean Cavanagh Set To Write Screen Adaptation Of The Donnelly Brothers

Tereza Pevna | 16th June 2015


Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Filth, Acid House) and Dean Cavanagh (Svengali, Honky Sausages, Babylon Heights) are working together with Keo films to produce Too Much Rock ‘N’ Roll, a major TV drama series based on legendary brothers, Anthony and Christopher Donnelly. Content Media will distribute the series internationally.

The true story centers around two brothers from a notorious Manchester council estate who went on to build an international fashion empire, only to see it fold through a combination of police investigations, gang violence, drugs and mismanagement from hedge funds.

Set against the backdrop of the world famous Hacienda nightclub in Manchester, the story revolves around Anthony and Christopher Donnelly as they go from ticket touts at Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Manchester City’s Main Road, to the catwalks of London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo, and hailed “Ambassadors for a generation,” by Vivienne Westwood.

Their father, Arthur Donnelly, was allegedly part of the infamous Quality Street Gang (QSG) who were believed to be the organised crime syndicate running the city for decades and about whom Thin Lizzy wrote their smash hit “The Boys Are Back In Town.”

Anthony and Christopher were destined to follow in their father’s footsteps, but instead followed their passion and started a clothing label worn by celebrities from the world of movies, TV, rock, pop and rap. The label went on to become an international multi-million pound business, with Pete Doherty calling them, “The Sex Pistols of fashion.”

The police refused to believe that the brothers had built their empire legitimately and a costly covert operation called “Operation Bluebell” was mounted, but resulted in unsuccessful attempts to tie the brothers to criminal activity on a level the police anticipated. The operation culminated in Anthony and their father Arthur being locked up as ‘category A’ high-risk prisoners for a joint total of seven years.

The Donnelly Brothers have since seen success with their autobiography “Still Breathing,” the launch of their YO – Your Own – Clothing brand, and have become creative enablers; incubating the next big thing across music, sport and the arts in the UK.

Welsh and Cavanagh said, “We’re really excited to be involved in telling the story of The Donnelly Brothers for the screen. Like them we’re a duo that have a similar dynamic. We’ve been offered many true life stories over the years but what attracts us to this story in particular is the fact that Anthony and Christopher are unbeatable, they won’t take no for answer, and we’re going to capture that spirit. It’s something we relate to having spent decades working in the business that is “show,” and all the attendant bullshit that comes with it. Anthony and Christopher are stand up lads and so are we. Hopefully this is the start of a long and creative partnership.”

Anthony and Christopher Donnelly said of the project, “When the book came out we got plenty of interest from people wanting to adapt it for the screen. Irvine and Dean are perfect for it – they totally get what we’re about.”

Debbie Manners CEO KEO films, added, “KEO’s delighted to be working with Irvine Welsh, Dean Cavanagh and the Donnelly’s on this exciting true life story. KEO’s recent move into scripted drama, telling real stories that are authentic using our television and documentary expertise in the scripted drama space is off to a flying start!”