A BOOK written by a Colchester author is set to become a film.

Historian Dr Mark Felton released Zero Night, a true Second World War escape story last year.

In it, 40 officers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa staged an audacious bid for freedom and it has proved a huge hit in the UK and Australasia.

The officers went over the huge double perimeter walls at the prisoner of war camp at Warburg in Germany on the night of August 30, 1942, using specially-constructed ladders inspired by medieval warfare.

Now the book has been picked up by Essential Media – the production company behind Tom Hanks movie Saving Mr Banks – and it looks set to become a Hollywood feature film.

Dr Felton, who studied at Philip Morant School in Colchester and has recently returned to the town after living in China for nine years, was delighted when he was told it had been chosen.

he said: “It came out of the blue. I got a call from my literary agent in London in February who told me there was a Hollywood companywho were very seriously interested.

“I was on the phone to Hollywood the same day.

“Usually it works the other way round and these sorts of companies will be sent things by agents, but in this instance they approached me.

“One of the producers lives in Melbourne and heard me talking about Zero Night on the radio and she told me she thought it was a film they had to make.”

Dr Felton, who has had 16 books published, has been offered a role to ensure the film remains historically accurate and is now waiting for a script to be prepared.

He also revealed a Hollywood megastar is set to play the leading role, but is contractually bound not to reveal his identity.

He said: “I cannot name any names, but we have an absolute A-lister who has read the book and is very keen.

“I am expecting them to change parts of the book dramaticallywhich is fine because it has to be adapted two hours of film, but hopefully if it gets made then it will be successful.”

Zero Night delves into the months of meticulous planning and secret training the soldiers had to put in for just three minutes of action as then men charged at the fence.

This became known as the notorious Warburg Wire Job and also describes how those who did elude the Germans tried to find their way home.

Dr Felton said: “The way they went about it was incredible and I could not believe nobody had written about such a fantastic story before.”