Neil Gaiman: 11 top adaptations, TV shows and films from the bestselling author, as The Sandman comes to Netflix

The Sandman, the latest drama based on the work of bestselling author Neil Gaiman, is released on Netflix 5 August. Here are 11 Gaiman adaptations to discover and enjoy…

By Lizzie Larkum Published: 28 July 2022 - 11.28am
Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is one of the best loved writers alive today. His work explores fantasy, sci-fi and horror to make beautifully imagined worlds with quirky and unique characters.

Vanity Fair called him a ‘modern mythmaker’ since much of his work is steeped in folklore and superstition, but given a contemporary spin which reasonates with modern audiences.

With such appeal it’s not surprising that much of his work has been adapted for screen, both small and large. The film rights to his 2013 novel 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' were bought before the book was even published! It's already been adapted for the stage and hopefully won't be too long before it reaches our screens.

Two of Gaiman's novels are currently in post production, the highly anticpated second season of Prime Video’s Good Omens has been filmed, although the first series ended where the book did so this should be an original story from Gaiman. Due out in 2023 the Prime Video adaptation of his 2005 novel, Anansi Boys, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Fiona Shaw.

With so much to look forward to we take a look at some of Gaiman's previous adaptaions and where to find them...

1. The Sandman (2022)

The long awaited TV series based on Neil Gaiman’s fantasy comic book series is released on Netflix 5 August. When The Sandman, or Dream to his friends, played by Tom Sturridge, is captured and imprisioned, unsettling things start to happen to both the dreaming and waking worlds. Upon gaining his freedom, Dream has to travel across worlds to make things right again. Starring, Jenna Coleman, David Thewlis, Tom Sturridge, Charles Dance, Joely Richardson, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Stephen Fry.

The Sandman is released on Netflix 5 August

2. Good Omens (2019 - )

Based on the 1990 book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (his first published novel), this fantasy comedy is a charming adaptation thanks to the great chemistry between Michael Sheen and David Tennant who play an Angel, Aziraphale and a Demon, Crowley.

Having each been placed on Earth for millennia, they slowly form an unlikely friendship and a fondness for living on Earth. So when they realise the apocalyse that they should be overseeing will end their comfortable lifestyles they decide to put a spanner in the works.

Produced by Prime Video the second season could be out as soon as this year. The first Season finsihed where the novel did so it's unknown what trouble Aziraphae and Crowley will find themselves in this time, but it's sure to be Biblical in proportions. 

Starring Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Jack Whitehall and narrated by Frances McDormand (voice of God)

Watch Good Omens season 1 on Prime Video

3. American Gods (2017-2021)

The supernatural Prime video drama based on the 2001 novel of the same name had a huge task recreating the rich world of religious deities, mythology and superstition that Gaiman created so well on the page. The main protagonist, Shadow Moon, played by Ricky Whittle, is a tortured soul, having been released from prison and dealing with the death of his wife, he is hired by Mr Wednesday a mysterious and shady character. He soon finds himself inexplicably embroiled in the war between the old gods and the new gods of technology.

Starring Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson and Ricky Whittle.

Watch American Gods season 1-3 on Prime Video

4. Stardust (2007)

A fantasy adventure film based on Gaiman’s 1991 novel of the same name.

When a star falls to Earth, Tristan, played by Charlie Cox, is tasked with retrieving it for his unrequited love, Victoria, played by Sienna Miller. But upon finding the star, in the form of a Yvaine, played by Clare Danes, he finds himself travelling into the fairy kingdom of Stormhold to protect her from those that covert her power. 

Starring Robert DeNiro, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller. Narrated by Ian McKellen and directed by Mathew Vaughn.

Stardust is available to stream on Netflix

5. Coraline (2009)

Oscar nominated, Laika animated adaptation of Gaiman’s 2002 novella.

When Coraline and her family move into a new house she discovers an alternative fantasy world which seems too good to be true. Which, unfortunatley for Coraline, it is.  Empire magazine described the film as “Terrifying and beautiful, believable and fantastical, this is one of the best children’s films in years and Selick’s finest — better even than The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Starring Terri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning, Keith David, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Watch Coraline on Sky Cinema with NOW

6. Doctor Who (2011 & 2013)

These are not strictly adaptations but Neil Gaiman has written two full length episodes of Doctor Who.

The Doctor’s Wife (2011) Series 6, episode 4, is an enjoyable romp through time and space. On the outside of the universe, The Doctor and his companions find themselves on an asteroid that consumes the energy from Tardis's (Tardi?) Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams and Suranne Jones as a personified tardis with the voice of Michael Sheen as the rather unfriendly asteroid.

Nightmare in Silver (2013) Series 7 episode 13. A day out at what used to be the biggest theme park in the Universe takes a turn for the worse when a cyberman turns up. Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as his sidekick with Jason Watkins, Warwick Davies and Tamzin Outhwaite.

Two Doctor Who shorts have also been written by Gaiman. Rain Gods (2013) is a mini episode which originated from a cut scene from ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ which was later made for the DVD release starring Matt Smith and Alex Kingston.

The second short was written and realeased during the lockdown in 2020 called Rory's Story, starring Arthur Darvill reprising his role as Rory Williams and the voice of Karen Gillan as his wife Amy Pond. Set in 1946, 8 years after being sent back in time by the Weeping Angels, Rory records a messsage to their child, using the only smart phone currently in existence. It's a sweet message that conveys just how convoluted and crazy his and Amy's journey with the Doctor was.

Watch Doctor Who season 1 - 13 on BBC iPlayer

7. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

Based on a short story by Gaiman, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a psychedelic sci-fi teenage romance set in 1977 at the height of punk.  On a night out 3 young lads accidentally crash a party being held by a group of PVC clan aliens who are on a tour of the Galaxy.

Punk wannabe Enn (Alex Sharp) meets naive young alien Zan (Elle Fanning) who wants him to show her how to be punk whilst seeing the sights of Croydon, the most dangerous place in the universe!

Worth watching for Nicole Kidman's cockney accent alone! Starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas and Alex Sharp.

Watch How to Talk to Girls at Parties is available to buy or rent on Prime Video

8. Beowulf ( 2007)

The screenplay for Beowulf was written by Neil Gaiman and Robert Avary and directed by Hollywood legend Robert Zemeckis.

Based on the Old English epic poem, this impressive 3D computer-animated fantasy adventure saw a buff Ray Winstone play the heroic warrior Beowulf who comes to rid the Danish kingdom of its monster. Starring the vocal talents of Angelina Jolie, John Malkovitch, Robin Wright, Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover and Anthony Hopkins.

Beowulf is available to buy or rent on Prime Video

9. Lucifer (2016-2021)

Again, not striclty an adaptation, Lucifer was inspired by the Lucifer Morningstar character in Gaiman’s Sandman comic. Lucifer, played by Tom Ellis, bored with his life in Hell decides to have a break in Los Angeles, which is probably where the links to Gaiman end.

In the show, despite being the Prince of Darkness, Lucifer somehow ends up helping the LAPD using his unearthly powers to catch criminals. The show was originally axed by Fox in 2018 but picked up by Netflix, with the series running for another 3 seasons. Although the character is in The Sandman, Tom Ellis will not be reprising his role of Lucifer in the forth coming series.

Watch Lucifer season 1-6 on Netflix

10. Neil Gaiman’s Likey Stories (2016)

Anthology series based on Gaiman’s short stories. Starring Paul Ritter (Chenobyl, Friday Night dinner) and Monica Dolan (The Thief, his wife and the canoe, W1A) with music from Jarvis Cocker and also features cameo appearances of Gaiman himself. Each self contained story revolves around a mystery and pretty much ends with a mystery, often asking more questions than answers, purposefully leaving the viewer to wonder what happened next.

Watch Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories on Sky Arts with NOW

11. Neverwhere TV Series (1996)

Time hasn't been too kind to the BBC Adaptation of Gaiman’s first published solo novel 'Neverwhere' but it still contains much of the magic and charm of the book. Richard Mayhew is a normal guy who’s world is turned upside down when he meets waiflike ‘Door’ who shows him a dark and secret London from where danger lurks in every corner.

Starring Laura Fraser, Tasmin Greig, Peter Capldi, Paterson Joseph.

Neverwhere is available to buy on Prime Video

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