LONDON — “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes is to adapt Anthony Trollope’s novel “Doctor Thorne” for the U.K.’s leading commercial network ITV.
The novel is the story of Dr. Thomas Thorne, who lives in the village of Greshamsbury in Barsetshire, with his beautiful niece, Mary, a girl blessed with every gift except money. Mary has grown up alongside the Gresham sisters – Augusta, Beatrice and Alexandrina, and their handsome brother Frank – whose home is the great house and estate at Greshamsbury Park.
When the terrifying Lady Arabella Gresham discovers that her darling son, Frank, has fallen in love with Dr. Thorne’s penniless niece, she is horrified. Her husband 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. 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 and launches a campaign to secure her son an heiress for a bride.
This month marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Trollope.
Fellowes said: “As a lifetime devotee of Trollope, my own favorite among the great 19th-century English novelists and certainly the strongest influence over my work that I am conscious of, it is tremendously exciting and satisfying to know that my adaptation of one of his best-loved novels is coming to ITV. I could not be more delighted.”
The three-part drama will be produced by Hat Trick Productions. “Doctor Thorne” will be executive produced by Hat Trick’s head of drama Mark Redhead (“Critical,” “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher,” “Case Sensitive”) and Fellowes with Chris Kelly and Ted Childs. Filming will begin later this year.
ITV’s director of drama Steve November and controller of drama Victoria Fea have commissioned “Doctor Thorne.”
November said: “It’s a rich and multilayered story of class and social standing and a timeless love story which Julian has brought to life brilliantly with his inimitable wit and warmth.”