JUNE 13, 2018, marks 100 years exactly since one of history’s greatest murder mysteries, and it happened in Oxford’s peaceful Russian twin city of Perm. Today, the disappearance of the last Emperor of Russia – brother to Tsar Nicholas II and uncle to Anastasia – remains largely unheard of, but the story has now been told in a new book which could soon become the next hit TV period drama. The man adapting the story for television, Nicholas Jones, gives us a sneak peak at the drama to come.

TODAY is the centenary of a gruesome event that happened in Oxford’s twin city of Perm in Russia – one that’s now inspired a prospective TV series.

On June 13, 1918, a Bolshevik hit squad kidnapped Grand Duke Michael Romanov from his hotel in the city and murdered him.

The Duke, though not many know this, was Russia’s last emperor for one day in 1917, after his brother Nicholas abdicated.

As revolution gripped Russia, royal life became precarious.

Duke Michael was moved to Perm by its new Bolshevik rulers as a hostage, although he lived in luxury there (with his Rolls) and was popular locally.

Yet Michael’s body has never been found, despite years of digging around Perm.

Hence it was believed at first that he had survived.

The idea that he actually did is the intriguing premise of The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael, a new novel by author Michael Roman.

I’ve been commissioned to adapt it for a future television series in my capacity as a film-maker and writer.

Naturally, some of its strongest scenes will be set in Perm.

I’m very keen to visit this city after speaking to Karen Hewitt, who chairs the Oxford Perm Association.

A chance meeting led her to teach English in Perm in 1989.

She recalled: “I was the only westerner in a city of one million.”

It laid the roots for Oxford’s twinning with Perm, which generations of Oxonians have now visited.

Yet Karen tells me Perm is ‘more a big village’ really, one that’s famous for ballet, good universities and fine old merchants’ homes.

In the novel and my script, Duke Michael is brought from Perm to England to start a new life, in a scheme masterminded by Winston Churchill and Sydney Reilly, the ‘Ace of Spies’.

Given the real-life intrigue that followed the Russian Revolution, such a plot-line is quite believable.

Having closely studied the revolution at university, I can say that for sure.

The real Grand Duke Michael seems to have been a splendid chap: tall, handsome and kind-hearted, he had one flaw – in 1912, he married a non-royal divorcee who had already borne him a son.

It appalled his brother Nicholas, who banished Michael from the land.

He settled in England, renting Knebworth House in Hertfordshire for £3,000 a year.

He gave his wife a Rolls.

When war broke out in 1914, Michael returned to Russia and became a distinguished cavalry commander.

He was there when revolution broke out in March 1917.

Michael’s assassination in June 1918 started a horrific cull of Russia’s imperial family.

A month later, his niece Anastasia – the most famous of all his relations – was killed along with her father Nicholas and family.

A belief she escaped has for decades inspired Hollywood movies, yet her remains were found, unlike her uncle Michael’s.

Whether in book or TV form, I’m sure The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael will now stimulate wide interest in one member of the family who has definitely not been found. May Michael rest in peace, wherever he is.

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael by Michael Roman and published by Matador Press is available in bookshops and online for £11.34.