Spielberg turns his talents to mini-series on the life of King Arthur

The film director Steven Spielberg is to follow his successful Second World War television epic Band of Brothers with a mini-series on the life of King Arthur.

The director behind Hollywood blockbusters such as ET, is scheduled to start work on the eight-part saga early next year, with a budget of about £6.5m per episode.

Spielberg will make the series with HBO, the American channel he worked with on Band of Brothers and which was behind Sex and the City and The Sopranos .

Keeping the winning Band of Brothers formula, key executives from that mini-series will join Spielberg in reworking the legend of Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. David Leland, its writer-director, is in negotiations to write several episodes of the project and he may also direct. Spielberg's co-executive producer will be Tony To, who also worked with him on Band of Brothers.

It has not yet been revealed who will play Arthur. But reports in America have suggested that the legend would be interwoven with documented accounts of historical characters who are thought to have inspired the Arthur stories.

Some of the subject matter will be familiar to Spielberg. One of King Arthur's most famous adventures was the quest for the Holy Grail, which was also the pursuit in Spielberg's movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Arthur's story has been told in many versions over the years. Richard Harris played the king in the 1967 film musical Camelot; Helen Mirren and Nigel Terry starred in the 1981 production Excalibur; and its comic potential was explored in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The 10-part Band of Brothers series is a hot favourite to win an Emmy this year. It was shown in Britain on BBC2.

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