Last Updated on January 15, 2022
This January, join MASTERPIECE for some armchair travel around the world. It promises to be a rollicking good time, and your travel companions couldn’t be more interesting.
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David Tennant stars in “Around The World In Eighty Days” as Englishman Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s classic tale about a daring bet in the 1870s to circle the globe in just eighty days. Ibrahim Koma plays Fogg’s resourceful valet, with Leonie Benesch as the intrepid reporter who accompanies them.
The round-the-world trip would be hard enough for the trio, even if someone wasn’t trying to sabotage them at every turn.
Read on for details about the eight-episode miniseries premiering Sunday, January 2, 2022 on PBS MASTERPIECE, and for episode airtimes and descriptions. Watch the trailer below.
Literature’s most famous race against the calendar comes to MASTERPIECE in 2022 with an innovative new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Around The World In Eighty Days, airing on MASTERPIECE in eight thrilling episodes airing Sundays, January 2 – February 20, 2022 at 8/7c on PBS.
David Tennant (Doctor Who) stars as the Englishman who bets a fortune that he can circumnavigate the planet in a mere eighty days—quite a feat, considering that it’s 1872. Fans of period dramas will recognize Tennant from his role as Casanova in the 2005 mini-series, as Mr. Gibson in Anthony Trollope’s “He Knew He Was Right,” and as John Knox in “Mary Queen of Scots.”
Ibrahim Koma (As Far as I Can Walk) and Leonie Benesch (Babylon Berlin) costar as his intrepid traveling companions on an expedition that packs far more adventure than the trio bargained for. This captivating tale is brought to life by UK production house Slim Film + Television and French production company Federation Entertainment.
Updating Verne’s enduringly popular tale, MASTERPIECE introduces new themes, characters, and stories, drawing in part on the author’s own personal history of disappointment in love, and also echoing the record- breaking around-the-world trip in 1890 by journalist Nellie Bly in emulation of Verne’s plot.
The story has been adapted multiple times for the screen, including a 1956 movie starring David Niven as Phileas Fogg, a 1989 TV mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan, and a 2004 movie with Steve Coogan in the leading role, but never like this.
Shot on location on two continents, the miniseries follows our heroes as they head east from London on October 5, 1872, intending to make it back to the reading room of the city’s snobbish Reform Club no later than one o’clock on Christmas Eve.
En route, they take ships, trains, balloons, camels, stagecoaches, and other conveyances, while meeting increasingly dangerous obstacles. At stake is a wager of 20,000 British pounds, equal to over $3 million in today’s U.S. currency.
The idea for the trip is sparked by a news article reporting a recently finished railway line in India that completes an unbroken chain of modern transportation links spanning the globe, making it possible to circle the planet in eighty days— at least, in theory.
Phileas Fogg (Tennant), a diffident bachelor and regular at the Reform Club, muses longingly about the possibility and is goaded by his old antagonist, Nyle Bellamy (Peter Sullivan, Poldark), into undertaking the journey, with a hefty bet riding on the outcome.
Deciding that his octogenarian butler (Richard Wilson, Merlin) is not up to the voyage, Fogg recruits a new valet, Passepartout (Koma), who is a sharp-witted French wanderer, and they immediately set forth.
Doggedly following their trail is the ambitious reporter of the story that launched the adventure, Abigail “Fix” Fortescue (Benesch), daughter of British newspaper magnate Bernard Fortescue (Jason Watkins, The Crown). Fogg soon concludes that he can’t get rid of Abigail and enlists her as an official member of the expedition. Little do they know but Abigail has made a crucial error in her original article.
However, that is the least of their worries as Fogg, Passepartout, and Abigail experience revolution, starvation, false arrest, surreptitious drugging, life-threatening attacks, and stranding on a desert island, among other perils. Clearly, fate—or somebody—does not want Fogg to win his bet!
Among the interesting, helpful, and menacing individuals they meet are the notorious English libertine Jane Digby (Lindsay Duncan, Sherlock) and her latest husband, Sheik Medjuel el Mezrab (Faical Elkihel, The Spy); dogged U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves (Gary Beadle, Grantchester), who is enforcing the law in the Old West; and ubiquitous private detective Thomas Kneedling (Anthony Flanagan, Gentleman Jack), who is definitely operating outside the law.
Furthermore, since even the most remote excursion invariably reconnects by chance with a long- lost acquaintance, Fogg runs into an old friend who wastes no time giving him a piece of her mind (Dolly Wells, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). A good thing too, since time is of the essence on this trip!
They say it can’t be done – but we’ll see. Airtimes and episode descriptions are below; recently aired episodes can be watched online for free for a limited time, here.
2022 Episode Premiere Dates and Descriptions
Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 8/7c
Phileas Fogg bets a fortune that he can circle the Earth in no more than eighty days. He enlists a new valet and attracts a persistent reporter. The three run amok in Paris.
Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 8/7c
Having survived mayhem in France, Fogg and his party are crossing Italy when their train comes to a screeching halt. Can they continue and save a boy’s life in the process?
Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 8/7c
To meet their connection in Aden, Fogg and Passepartout hire a camel driver to cross the desert. Bad idea! Can Abigail and her new acquaintances rescue them?
Sunday, January 23, 2022 at 8/7c
Invited to a wedding in India, Fogg has his diplomatic skill tested when a British officer arrests the groom. Unwittingly drugged, Fogg spills his true motivation for the trip to Abigail.
Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 8/7c
Though wealthy, Fogg discovers that someone has put a hold on his credit in Hong Kong, making further progress impossible. Passepartout puts his larceny skills to use.
Sunday, February 6, 2022 at 8/7c
Facing starvation on a desert island, Fogg and Passepartout have a falling out. The valet’s superior survival skills are desperately needed to save their lives, much less the round-the-world wager.
Sunday, February 13, 2022 at 8/7c
Arrived in the Old West, the three adventurers meet a lawman with his fugitive captive. Making their next train connection hinges on Abigail’s journalistic cool in a shootout.
Sunday, February 20, 2022 at 8/7c
Fogg meets on old friend at New York’s Grand Central Depot and must decide whether to continue his trip. Unbeknownst to him, astronomical effects will decide the outcome.
If you enjoyed this post, wander over to The Period Films List. You’ll especially like the Best Period Dramas: Victorian Era list.