A retired British television producer has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for trying to hire hit men to kill his partner — a plot he claimed was merely research for a thriller.

Prosecutors say David Harris offered large sums of money to three men to kill his partner, Hazel Allinson. Both had worked on long-running TV police series "The Bill."

Prosecutors say 68-year-old Harris wanted to inherit Allinson's fortune and move in with his girlfriend, a former professional basketball player from Lithuania in her 20s.

Harris was arrested after an undercover police officer posed as a prospective hit man.

Sentencing him Friday, Judge Anne Molyneux said Harris wanted his long-term partner to "die a painful and terrifying death" to fund his "pipe dream" of a new life.