'Lovers & Gamblers': cast, plot and everything we know

'Lovers & Gamblers' author Jackie Collins.
'Lovers & Gamblers' author Jackie Collins. (Image credit: Alamy)

Lovers & Gamblers, the bestseller by Jackie Collins, is being turned into a major new TV series, adapted by Sarah Phelps, who has written a host of recent BBC1 Agatha Christie adaptations.

The epic saga Lovers & Gamblers was first published in 1977, and explores the themes of greed, success, fame, independence, and intimacy, and becomes the ninth of Jackie Collins’ novels to be adapted either as films or miniseries.

"Lovers & Gamblers is a searing scabrous masterpiece," says Sarah Phelps, who's also written for EastEnders and has adapted And Then There Were None, The Pale Horse and The ABC Murders for the BBC. 

"It tells a story of roadside zoos, cults, beauty pageants, poverty and exploitation, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Jackie Collins was ahead of her time, her unflinching eye trained mercilessly on the filthy machinations of politics and power and how the seeds are sown for our own post-truth chaos. 

"Lovers & Gamblers is about flawed, damaged people who will do anything, absolutely anything to get to the top and asks what the hell happens to you once you’ve got there. It’s dark, it’s shocking, it is brutally, savagely funny but ultimately, it’s a story about redemption and love."

FederationUK handles international sales and the Jackie Collins Estate is represented by UTA which negotiated the deal. So here’s all we know so far about the upcoming series of Lovers & Gamblers.

Lovers & Gamblers release date

The series of Lovers & Gamblers is currently being written for TV, so there’s no release date yet. We’ll update with cast news, a trailer, first look pictures and more as soon as we know. We'll also update on the channel, but Jackie's family has recently indicated that some of her novels were being adapted by Netflix, so it could well be that Lovers and Gamblers is coming to the giant streaming channel worldwide.

'Lovers & Gamblers' plot

The novel Lovers & Gamblers became a New York Times bestseller when it was first published in 1977 and is regarded as one of Jackie Collins best. The book synopsis reads: ‘Al King, the rock-and-roll super stud who is everything any sex-crazed groupie ever imagined her hero to be; and Dallas, the beauty queen whose sky-high ambitions stem from a sordid secret-the type that tabloids tingle to tell. Together, they're on a wild ride from London to New York, from Hollywood to Rio and the steaming jungles of the Amazon-where all their dreams and nightmares are about to come true…LOVERS & GAMBLERS.’

Many fans of the novel believe the character of Al King was based on British superstar singer Tom Jones. Even Tom Jones though it was him, as Jackie later confirmed in later interviews about her book!

'Lovers & Gamblers' cast

It's too early for the Lovers & Gamblers cast to be announced, and we will update as soon as we hear. But there are rumours galore swirling around on who could possibly be cast to play the Tom Jones-like character Al King. These include Tom Hardy, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Hughes. Watch this space!

Jackie Collins once revealed that 'Lovers & Gamblers' lead character is based on Tom Jones in the 1970s.

Jackie Collins once revealed that her 'Lovers & Gamblers' lead character Al King is based on Tom Jones in the 1970s. (Image credit: Getty)

'Lovers & Gamblers' author Jackie Collins

Known as the ‘queen of the bonk-buster’, Jackie was born in London in 1937 as the younger sister of Dynasty star Dame Joan Collins. Like Joan, she started out as an actress, but went on to write her first novel The World is Full of Married Men in 1968. 

Jackie wrote  32 novels, including Chances, Lucky and Hollywood Wives, which all which appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, and sold more than half a billion books worldwide. Hollywood Wives was made into a TV miniseries in 1985 (see below) while Joan Collins starred in 1970s adaptations of Jackie's novels The Stud and The Bitch (also see below).

Sadly, Jackie Collins died on 19 September 2015 from breast cancer, two weeks before her 78th birthday. A new documentary Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story about the novelist has already been shown on the US and Canada and comes to the UK on BBC2  Friday 15 Oct at 9pm.

Lovers and Gamblers is also now available as an audiobook.

Jackie Collins and sister Joan joineed forces to promote films The Stud and The Bitch in the 1970s.

Jackie Collins and sister Joan joined forces to promote films 'The Stud' and 'The Bitch' in the 1970s. (Image credit: Getty)

Jackie Collins promoting Hollywood Wives in the 1980s.

Jackie Collins promoting Hollywood Wives in the 1980s. (Image credit: Getty)

Jackie Collins' daughter Rory Green on family involvement in the 'Lovers & Gamblers' TV project

Jackie Collins' family have been closely involved in this adaptation of Lovers & Gamblers. Jackie’s daughter Rory Green says: “When we first met writer Sarah Phelps my sisters and I were completely blown away by the ferocity of her passion for Lovers & Gamblers, one of our mother’s most epic and exciting sagas. Together with Polly Williams and Arielle Gottlieb at FederationUK, these three formidable women share our vision of taking the Jackie Collins experience from the page to the screen, with all the thrill, fabulousness and forward feminist thinking that epitomizes our mother’s narrative power…” 

Writer Sarah Phelps...

Polly Williams, Managing Director and Arielle Gottlieb, Creative Director, at FederationUK, said: “We both devoured Jackie Collins’ books when we were young women, so when Sarah Phelps told us Lovers & Gamblers was one of her favourite novels, the idea of bringing these two extraordinary female creators together was absolutely thrilling. It finally feels like it’s the right time for people to take Jackie Collins and women’s popular fiction seriously. We can’t wait for Sarah to breathe fresh life into an extraordinary cast of characters and we can’t think of anyone more perfect than Sarah to show the world how smart, perceptive and still relevant Lovers & Gamblers is.” 

Sarah's latest project A Very British Scandal is to be shown on BBC1 and BBCiPlayer over the Christmas season in 2021. She has previously written TV adaptations for the BBC on Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Crimson Field, plus Agatha Christie dramas such as And Then There Were None, The Pale Horse and Witness For The Prosecution.

'Lovers & Gamblers' is adapted by Sarah Phelps.

'Lovers & Gamblers' is adapted by Jackie Collins fan Sarah Phelps. (Image credit: FederationUK)
Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.