Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes announced in April that he was adapting Anthony Trollope’s Victorian era novel Doctor Thorne as a three-part drama for ITV. The Weinstein Co has now come aboard for North American rights, with Harvey and Bob Weinstein exec producing. At the same time, and with shooting imminent, casting has been confirmed. This comes as the Mipcom TV market is just around the corner; it’s also Fellowes’ first series post-Downton and a next step into UK drama for TWC which also has the upcoming BBC epic War And Peace. Hat Trick is producing Doctor Thorne and handling international sales.
Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Pirates Of The Caribbean) will play the title role of Dr Thomas Thorne, who lives in the village of Greshamsbury in Barsetshire, with his young niece, Mary (newcomer Stefanie Martini), a girl blessed with every gift except money. Mad Men and Community‘s Alison Brie is playing wealthy American heiress, Miss Martha Dunstable.
Doctor Thorne is a tale of envy, lust and greed, of arrogance and vanity and false values – but mainly of love. Ian McShane (Ray Donovan) and Rebecca Front (Humans) will also star alongside a large cast.
Harvey Weinstein says, “It’s a tremendous thrill to be a part of Julian Fellowes’ first television outing since Downton Abbey, a series we were all such immense fans of. With a script as extremely witty, brilliant, and appealing as this one is, I’m certain Doctor Thorne will replicate the passionate fan base and ratings power of Downton Abbey.”
The three-part drama starts shooting this month. With his schedule lightened up a bit now that Downton has wrapped its final season, Fellowes is exec producing with the Weinsteins, Hat Trick’s Head of Drama, Mark Redhead, Christopher Kelly and Ted Childs.
The story surrounds Mary who has grown up alongside the Gresham sisters and their handsome brother Frank whose home is the great house and estate at Greshamsbury Park. When the terrifying Lady Arabella Gresham (Front) discovers that her darling son has fallen in love with Mary, she is horrified. Her husband, Francis Gresham Senior (Peaky Blinders‘ Richard McCabe), has frittered away the family fortune and is only being kept afloat by very favorable loans that Dr Thorne has secured from a railway millionaire, Sir Roger Scatcherd (Edward Franklin). However, Sir Roger is drinking himself into an early grave and the financial future is uncertain, so Lady Arabella believes it is her son’s duty to make a rich marriage to save the family estate, launching a campaign to secure her son an heiress for a bride. Brie’s Miss Martha Dunstable is the target.
Also starring are Phoebe Nicholls (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), Gwyneth Keyworth (Game Of Thrones), Kate O’Flynn (No Offence), newcomer Harry Richardson, Cressida Bonas (Tulip Fever), Danny Kirrane (Critical), Janine Duvitski (Benidorm) and Tom Bell (Humans).
The Long Walk To Finchley‘s Niall McCormick is directing with Helen Gregory (Case Histories) producing.
Fellowes calls Doctor Thorne “a wonderful example of Trollope’s gift for understanding the tangles we humans get into. He is sharply observant, critical and merciful in equal measure and, above all, highly entertaining. With the cast we have assembled, I am confident we can bring all of these qualities to the screen.”
The deal for the series was negotiated by Paul Cohen at Hat Trick with Robert Walak and Michal Podell Steinberg on behalf of TWC. Production will be overseen by Walak and Negeen Yazdi in London and Melissa Wells in New York.