A HISTORIAN is celebrating a Hollywood double after another of his books was picked up by top film producers, before it has even been published.

Dr Mark Felton, who attended Philip Morant School in Colchester, Essex University and Colchester Institute, has signed a contact with top film company Entertainment One to take up the right to his upcoming non-fiction title Castle of the Eagles: Escape from Mussolini’s Colditz.

The company has previously worked on smash hits including The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, Eye in the Sky with Helen Mirren and Kristin Scott Thomas film Suite Francaise.

The book, which does not come out until February, features the story of top British soldier being captured by Italian forces in north Africa during the Second World War and them being transferred to a prison near Florence.

Dr Felton said: “The book is something I came across when researching something else which is often the case.

“The Italians took these soldiers who ranged in rank right up to lieutenant generals and put them in a castle.

“There were 14 of them, one had one arm and one eye, another had a gammy hip, and they all just kept trying to escape.

“It showed their real determination, grit and resolve.

“The castle was 600 miles from the Swiss border and six of them managed to escape by digging a 60 ft tunnel.

“I am hoping, because the age of the characters who are between 42 and 63 it might appeal to middle aged actors looking for one last action role.”

Another of Dr Felton’s books Zero Night, another wartime escape tale, is also at the pre-production stage of being made into a film after being picked up by film company Essential Media with meetings due in the coming weeks with a number of top producers.

The latest deal has been in the works for a number of months, but Dr Felton has been forced to remain tight-lipped on the plans while legal wrangling was confirmed and contracts were drawn up.

He said: “The attention has all been a bit bizarre because I have written a lot of books in my time.

“I changed my writing style slightly, focusing on these escape stories and going in a slightly different vein and things have gone crazy.

“That change has worked very well.

“When the first Hollywood thing came about I was completely blown away, for it to happen a second time leaves me absolutely flabbergasted.

“Realistically, projects which reach this stage do not always end up getting made, but to have two in the running gives me double the chance.

“I have seen draft scripts for Zero Night and things have been changed with even a couple of brand new characters added which, genuinely, I do not mind at all.

“It is all part of the process and the script is great.”