6:44am PT by Alex Ritman, Scott Roxborough
'Downton Abbey' Finale: Where to Turn Next for Posh Period TV
With the last supper served in Downton Abbey during Sunday’s finale of the hit series on PBS' Masterpiece, many fans of the show might be concerned that their regular fix of tweed-wearing lords, sharped-tongued dowagers and m’lady-ing butlers was coming to an abrupt end.
But fear not, because Downton’s phenomenal success has seen a slew of similar dramas ordered, with networks and streaming services eager to tap into the demand for frightfully proper British period dramas.
Here are some upcoming shows that should help diminish the post-Downton blues.
Doctor Thorne (The Weinstein Co.)
Penned by Downton’s creator, Julian Fellowes, this three-parter is based on the Anthony Trollope novels and has themes that tick all the Abbey-friendly boxes: fortune, poverty, illegitimacy, marriage and entitlement, and all set around a quintessentially British country estate.
It stars U.K. TV regular Tom Hollander (The Night Manager), plus Alison Brie, Ian McShane and, for a royal touch, Cressida Bonas, who once dated Prince Harry. British channel ITV aired the first episode Sunday to strong reviews. The Weinstein Co. last year acquired North American rights, although a U.S. release hasn’t yet been announced.
This is the show PBS is hoping will fill the Downton hole, having set it in exactly the same Sunday night slot on Masterpiece when it launches in 2017. The series — from Poldark producer Mammoth Screen and initially ordered by ITV as an eight-parter — follows the early days of British monarch Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Jenna Coleman — famed for playing Doctor Who’s sidekick Clara — stars as the young queen, while Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) will play her first prime minister.
The Crown (Netflix)
Netflix’s first U.K.-based original series is a hugely ambitious project, rumored to have cost some $156 million for the first two 10-episode series (although the streamer has only officially commissioned one).
The story is set behind the velvet curtains of the U.K.’s most famous addresses — Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street — chronicling Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the intrigues and love lives of the British royal family and its relationship with the government, with plans to take it right up to the present. Created by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot), The Crown stars Claire Foy as the Queen with Matt Smith as her husband, Prince Philip. The first season is set to air this year.
The Collection (Amazon)
Like Netflix, Amazon’s first original U.K. drama series offered more than just a feathered hat tip to the new period-friendly doors opened by Downton. Created by Ugly Betty exec Oliver Goldstick and produced by Lookout Point, which was behind The Weinstein Co.’s big-budget War & Peace, this series delves into the fictional world of an illustrious fashion house in postwar Paris during a pivotal moment for French haute couture. While it may not be set in the U.K., it’s mostly being shot in south Wales. Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, Newsroom) is set to star.
It's not just the English-speaking world that has taken to Downton's historical, upper-class goings-on. Here are five shows furrowing brows in drawing rooms across the world.
Grand Hotel (Spain)
This Iberian melodrama is set in 1905, and follows the Downton Abbey upstairs/downstairs model of working class meets upper class conflict with a soapy plot involving young Julio, who gets a job as a waiter at the luxurious Grand Hotel. What follows is a tale of wealth, sex and dangerous secrets set against the class divide. A huge hit in Spain and across much of Europe, Grand Hotel is available on Netflix in the U.S.
Another Spanish guilty pleasure, Velvet is set in the Madrid fashion scene circa 1950. The young heir to a fashion empire falls in love with a humble seamstress and conflict ensues. The first season drew an average of 4.8 million viewers in Spain for a spectacular 25 percent market share.
Downton meets House of Cards in this Danish period piece, which drew an unprecedented 67 percent viewing share in Denmark on public broadcaster DR. The eight-part series reunites the stars of Denmark’s modern-day political drama Borgen — Sidse Babett Knudsen and Pilou Asbaek — in this 19thcentury story set against the Danish war with Prussia.
The Princess’s Man (Korean)
This Romeo-and-Juliet-styled romance features Korean stars Moon Chae Won and Park Shi Hoo as star-crossed lovers whose parents will stop at nothing to ascend the throne and rule 15th-century Korea.
Set in the royal court of 15th-century Spain, where greed, lust and lies are the order of the day. When Seville is left without a direct heir to the throne, Princess Isabel (Michelle Jenner) and Prince Alfonso (Pedro Casablanc) are cut off from their mother and forced to live in the royal court amongst strangers. With the end of her childhood, Isabel proves to be a formidable young woman as she takes charge in choosing her own husband and fends off conspiracies against her to become Queen of Castile.