Prime to Premiere Downton Fellowes-Up in HD

Could Prime have found its new Downton Abbey?

The channel will screen in HD the new Julian Fellowes adaptation, Doctor Thorne, 7.30 Thursdays from March 31.

His spin on the Anthony Trollope novel stars Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Rev) as a village doctor in the 1870s and Ian McShane as an alcoholic railway baron; Humans’ Rebecca Front, Mad Men’s Alison Brie, Indian Summers’ Richard McCabe and Prince Harry’s ex Cressida Bonas co-star.

Prime has bravely programmed the three-part period romp in a plum slot only weeks after its ITV premiere on March 6.

The Telegraph dubbed the Fellows-Trollope union “a happy marriage” and said it “feels akin to the best TV adaptations of Trollope – The Barchester Chronicles (1982) and The Way We Live Now (2001).

“And those ball gowns alone are more than capacious enough to fill the Downton-shaped hole in our Sunday night viewing.”

Quipped The Daily Express: “It’s tempting to call it Downton with crinoline, but it’s more like country-house Dickens …

“Yes, it’s about rich people in grand houses, and the etiquette of status and hierarchy. At heart, though, this is a love story.”

But The Daily Mail dubbed the titular hero “Dr Dull” and said the premiere “felt like a re-tread of every period drama you have ever seen, plus all those you may have missed down the years”.

Whatever the critical diagnosis, expect the series to look splendid in HD on Prime’s Sky platform.

Reported another Telegraph critic: “It was was filmed in high summer and the characters go about their gossiping in a picture-postcard Barsetshire which is all striped lawns and herbaceous blooms.

“Where Roman blockbuster movies are known as sword and sandals, this comic melodrama is the Victorian version: sward and scandals.”

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