US cable network Showtime has ordered a political drama about the Catholic Church from Sir Ridley Scott.

The move is significant because it is the first time that Alien and Blade Runner director Scott is to direct a television pilot himself.

The CBS-owned premium broadcaster has commissioned a pilot of The Vatican, its first order for 2013. The show will be a genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the Catholic Church. It was written by Donnie Brasco and House screenwriter Paul Attanasio.

The series will be produced and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television.

Scott, Attanasio and David Zucker, head of television at Scott’s production company Scott Free, will executive produce the drama.

The Vatican is the latest scripted success for Showtime following the breakout hit Homeland, which just completed its second season, and comedies including Don Cheadle-fronted House of Lies. The network has also ordered dramas Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, which will both launch in the new year.