Period and contemporary British drama series had a fine showing in today’s Emmy nominations. The usual suspects like Downton Abbey (sans Maggie Smith or Michelle Dockery) are here with eight noms, tying BBC/Masterpiece’s roundly-lauded Wolf Hall. Previous contenders such as Sherlock and Luther were not eligible this year and thus don’t figure. But a new British entry, which is also the last in a long-running series, provided a couple of firsts.
Acorn TV, the British TV streaming service in North America that’s owned by RLJ Entertainment, picked up a nod for Outstanding Television Movie with Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case. This is the final movie in the 25-year history of the beloved series. The acclaimed drama that stars David Suchet has never before been submitted for Emmy consideration and so, scored a nom on its first — and last — time out.
Certainly in the UK, Suchet is synonymous with the brilliant Belgian detective and portrayed Christie’s iconic sleuth in all 70 Poirot stories. Curtain takes place in post-war 1940s England, where an ailing Poirot reunites with Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) at Styles, the place where they solved their first murder 30 years prior. Knowing that one of the guests is a killer, Poirot tries to prevent another murder, understanding that his own death is nearing.
RLJ Entertainment’s UK production arm, Acorn Productions, co-produced Curtain, and the final movie had its U.S. Premiere in August 2014 on Acorn TV. While Acorn is billed as a niche service, this only adds to the increasingly high awards profile of streaming services in general along with mastodons Netflix and Amazon.
Elsewhere, perennial favorite Downton Abbey, which airs on Masterpiece in the U.S. and is headed into its 6th and final season, picked up, among others, nods for Outstanding Drama Series, and supporting actors Jim Carter and Joanne Froggatt. (Froggatt won the Globe earlier this year). Not represented is Maggie Smith, who has previously won or been nominated since 2011. That’s too bad as this was a particularly Dowager-centric year with a storyline that highlighted her backstory.
Wolf Hall is up for Outstanding Limited Series as well as acting mentions for Mark Rylance (currently shooting Steven Spielberg’s The BFG) and erstwhile Homeland star Damian Lewis as Henry VIII. The series was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
In contemporary drama, Maggie Gyllenhaal was recognized for her lead turn in Sundance TV/BBC thriller The Honourable Woman which picked up four mentions total including Outstanding Limited Series.