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Tom Hollander – one of our absolute best actors, by the way – dons the period garb for this new adaptation of an Anthony Trollope classic. That’s Sunday sorted, then.
In a nutshell
Hands up who thought Julian Fellowes’s next project after Downton would be a gritty tale of youth unemployment and heroin addiction on an inner city estate? Nobody? How astute of you all. Clearly knowing where his talents lie (and what his audiences like), Mr Fellowes has served up a new saga of posh aristocratic types swanning about country estates, but wait. There IS a bit of an edge here, even if it’s not readily obvious at first glance. Indeed, at first glance this was all ladies in bonnets and sun-dappled emerald fields and bygone England at its most genteel. So far, so yawn.
Fortunately, there was some serious intrigue here to get us properly interested, because the pristine façade concealed all kinds of financial angst and family strife. The always marvellous Tom Hollander was the eponymous Dr Thorne, forced to reveal some home truths to his niece – truths that may royally mess up her plans to marry the heir to a sprawling estate, an heir who wasn’t anywhere near as magically wealthy as he appeared. Meanwhile, Dr Thorne also has to do some actual doctoring when faced with a railway magnate rather too fond of the bottle. Alcoholism in a Victorian period drama? Mr Fellowes!
What's the verdict?
With the likes of Rebecca Front and Ian McShane also in the cast, Doctor Thorne may not have arrived with much fanfare, but it may well become one of the surprise TV hits of 2016. Then Julian Fellowes can get on with writing that gritty drug drama we all know he’s must be itching to do…