Read more about Doctor Thorne (see images via ITV's press pack) below...
TOM HOLLANDER, REBECCA FRONT AND IAN MCSHANE STAR IN DOCTOR THORNE
Tom Hollander, Rebecca Front and Ian McShane star in Doctor Thorne, adapted for ITV by Academy and Emmy Award-winning Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, from one of his favourite novels by Anthony Trollope.
The cast also includes Alison Brie, who played Trudy Campbell in the acclaimed US series Mad Men, Olivier and Tony award winner Richard McCabe (Indian Summers, The Great Fire, Peaky Blinders), Phoebe Nicholls (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, ForBtude, Downton Abbey), Gwyneth Keyworth (Game of Thrones, Misfits), Kate O’Flynn (No Offence, Ordinary Lies), Edward Franklin (The Brain Hack, Doctors) and introduces two newcomers Stefanie Martini and Harry Richardson.
Tom Hollander (Rev, A Poet In New York, Pirates of the Caribbean) takes the role of Dr. Thomas Thorne, who lives in the village of Greshamsbury in Barsetshire with his young niece, Mary (Stefanie MarEni), a girl blessed with every gift except money.
Mary Thorne has grown up alongside the Gresham family, whose house, Greshamsbury Park, and status dominate the county. With Francis Gresham Senior (Richard McCabe) having frittered away the family fortune, however, his wife, Lady Arabella Gresham, played by Rebecca Front (War and Peace, Humans, Lewis, The Thick of It ), their daughters Augusta (Gwyneth Keyworth) and Beatrice (Nell Barlow), and their handsome brother Frank (Harry Richardson) face losing their home.
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 Gresham is only being kept afloat by very favourable loans that Dr. Thorne has secured from a railway millionaire, Sir Roger Scatcherd , played by Ian McShane (Ray Donovan, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Pillars of the Earth). However, Sir Roger is drinking himself into an early grave and the family’s financial future lies with his unreliable son Louis Scatcherd (Edward Franklin).
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, aided by her scheming sister in law, the very grand Countess De Courcy (Phoebe Nicholls) and her conniving niece Alexandrina De Courcy (Kate O’Flynn ). Their target is wealthy American heiress Miss Martha Dunstable (Alison Brie).
Cressida Bonas (Tulip Fever) is also cast as Mary’s friend and confidante, Patience Oriel, and Danny Kirrane ( CriBcal, Trollied ), appears as Lady Augusta’s wealthy but ill-‐ mannered fiancé, Mr. Moffatt.
Janine Duvitski ( Benidorm, This is Jinsy , LiQle Dorrit ) is cast as Lady Scatcherd and Tom Bell ( Humans, Ludus ) as Lord Porlock .
The director is Niall McCormick ( The Long Walk to Finchley, Complicit, The Game ) and the producer is Helen Gregory ( Case Histories, Cider With Rosie ).
Doctor Thorne has been commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama, Steve November, and Controller of Drama, Victoria Fea.
The three-part drama is produced by Hat Trick Productions.
Interview with Mark Redhead, Executive Producer
Doctor Thorne is executive produced by Julian Fellowes with Hat Trick’s Head of Drama, Mark Redhead (Critical, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Case SensiBve), Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Christopher Kelly and Ted Childs.
Writer Julian Fellowes said: "Doctor Thorne is a wonderful example of Trollope's gift for understanding the tangles we humans get into. He is sharply observant, critical and merciful in equal measure and, above all, highly entertaining. With the cast we have assembled, I am confident we can bring all of these qualities to the screen."
Hat Trick International is handling international distribution with The Weinstein Company who have North American rights.
Q: What does Tom Hollander bring to the role of Doctor Thorne?
“Tom was our instant thought for what is a very interesting role. The key thing and phrase Julian had was he felt the character needed ‘charismatic decency’. To be nice, genuinely lovable and charismatic at the same time is a rare quality, it’s Tom Hanks, James Stewart...and Tom Hollander.
This story is dramatic, romantic and funny and Tom is brilliant at treading that line. So that he is funny but he doesn’t undermine the story by levng the comedy get out of control. He is the moral centre. It’s a really difficult part to play because Doctor Thorne is in possession of a secret which he is unable to share with anybody throughout the entire story and Tom had to manage that all the way through. It’s very unusual for a drama to be about someone who is just trying to do the decent thing.”
Tom Hollander is Doctor Thorne
“ I was very excited to be offered a part like this. It was interesting for me to play a straight lead. The context of a costume drama with ladies in bonnets talking about weddings was very familiar to me, and to everyone. But the casting of me as Doctor Thorne was a challenge and so I wanted to do it.”
Q: Who is Doctor Thorne?
“Doctor Thorne is a village doctor. A modest man and a bachelor who lives with his niece Mary (Stefanie Martini), the only blood relation he has. He spends the story trying to protect her from the legacy of her origins, which are not good. The daughter of a village girl born out of wedlock after a seduction.
Doctor Thorne is the moral centre of the piece. He is well liked in the village and even though he is only the doctor, all the rich people ask him for advice and guidance. They trust him and he is heavily involved and in charge of the finances of the Gresham household. The railway baron Sir Roger Scatcherd (Ian McShane) has lent the Greshams lots of money and they are heavily in debt to him. So Doctor Thorne acts as the go between to keep them from falling out.
He is selfless and constantly puts himself in a disadvantaged position if it means his niece will be okay. He’s always repressing his own selfish feelings in favour of doing the right thing for someone else, so in that sense he’s a very impressive person. He is a very low-key hero but he stands up when needed and when he has to push back on people he does. He also has a temper. So he’s a Victorian virtuous hero but with a bit of a grump about him. That was very interesting to play.”
Q: Were you a Trollope fan?
“I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read Trollope so this was interesEng. I looked at the book a bit, having accepted the part, to see what the character was like in the book. But mostly I worked from the scripts.
“I’ve heard people say Trollope is more nuanced. Dickens is more exaggerated and much more clear and the characters are very broad and very dramatic and there are lots of incidents. In something like Doctor Thorne it’s really about stopping incidents from happening. Most of the drama has happened in the past and it’s all about dealing with the consequences of the past. It’s ordinary life.”
Q: Had you worked with Julian Fellowes before?
“I worked with Julian Fellowes on Gosford Park a long time ago. It was lovely to be reunited with him after all that time. On my first day filming we were in Wrotham Park in Hernordshire where we had also filmed Gosford Park in 2001. Fourteen years later there we are, Julian is Lord Fellowes, I’ve got grey in my hair and we were doing his latest. So that was fun.”
Q: How would you describe Julian’s adapta.on of Doctor Thorne?
“It’s a fairy tale, it looks so beautiful. In one sense it’s like a rom-com. You see a couple at the beginning -‐ Mary (Stefanie Martini) and Frank (Harry Richardson) - and you hope they will eventually get together. But there are lots of obstacles put in their way that they have to overcome before they get there. It’s escapism and lovely to watch, very well cast with some great actors. Harry and Stefanie are new and in one of their first jobs, so that was very exciting for them, full of the joys of spring, bouncing around, they couldn’t believe how lovely everything was. It was very healthy for us older jaundiced actors to be reminded how much fun it is.
Costume dramas are really about escaping from anything that is too familiar. It’s a world of glistening sunshine and dew-decked meadows. It’s not contemporary social realism with a political punch. It’s something to calm you down before you go to sleep, before the stresses of work the next day. But there is also the eternal stuff. Notions of true love, moral rigour , courage in the face of adversity, and doing the right thing. It was genuinely a very happy job for everyone involved.”
Q: Doctor Thorne is set in a very different .me to today?
“The Greshams are very vulnerable. There is no middle class in the sense we understand it. They will lose the house that has been in the family for hundreds of years if their son doesn’t marry someone with money. You had to be sensible at that time about stablishing your future. It’s an attitude to marriage which seems shocking to us with our modern romantic notions. When we’re watching it, we think, ‘You must marry for love. You must be modern like us.’ But what the family is trying to do is to come up with something much more akin to an arranged marriage with an heiress to save themselves and their home.”
Q: What was it like working with Rebecca Front, who plays Frank’s mother Lady Arabella Gresham? “I don’t think we’ve worked together before, but I’ve known her forever. Rebecca was wonderful as Lady Arabella. Because she played what could have just been a nasty, snobbish character as a nuanced mother with legitimate worries. And she’s very funny.
Q: What was it like working with Ian McShane , as Sir Roger Scatcherd?
“That was fun. Ian McShane was brilliant. I’d met him about 25 years before and hadn’t seen him since. He’s got incredible energy and in the show he’s wonderful as Scatcherd. Perfect casting. It was very lovely that he did it.”
Q: Snobbery is one of the themes of Doctor Thorne. Have you experienced it yourself?
“I’ve certainly been around people who are snobbish. But who hasn’t? Social class snobbery of the sort that’s in Doctor Thorne seems particularly ridiculous because it’s so Victorian. But it’s no different to any other means of division that human beings come up with to divide themselves from each other. Like people who support different football teams. That’s a form of snobbery. It’s tribal behaviour. It’s groups trying to keep themselves as groups. Too frightened to go out outside their own group. Wanting to huddle together. Inverted snobbery is quite as common as top down snobbery. People have all sorts of ways of keeping themselves in gangs.”
Q: Lack of money is another theme. Have you ever been down to your last few pence?
“I’ve never been truly poor. I’ve been student poor in the ‘80s. But when I was a student the state paid you to go to university. So I’ve never been down to my last fiver.”
Q: You filmed at many historic houses and estates. Does that help get into character?
“Yes, it does half the job. Along with the costume and the hair. So much of it is done for you. It’s about the transmitting of emotion for the actors. That’s what they’ve got to do. They’ve got to focus on trying to be authentic emotionally in whatever fictional situation they find themselves in. And then the cameras are all making them look beautiful in an amazing context when sometimes you’re not even quite aware of what the shot is doing. It was a very lovely autumnal tour in an Indian Summer around some of the most beautiful houses in the country. That was a very special thing.”
Q: Does Doctor Thorne feature in the dancing scenes?
“He does. Gently. In the first one he is just standing at the edge, concerned with why his niece isn’t dancing with anyone. Worried for her. And in the final dancing scene he dances with Miss Dunstable, played by Alison Brie.
On that day of filming we joined the waltz and promptly fell down because Miss Dunstable’s dress was too big and she stepped up it. We fell over each other and took a tumble. We shot that quite a few times and were by far the worst day.”
Cast interviews (Tom Hollander mentions):
Ian McShane is Sir Roger Scatcherd
Q: You worked with Tom Hollander, who plays Doctor Thorne, and Stefanie Mar.ni, who plays his niece Mary Thorne?
“I’m a fan of Tom’s, I loved his show Rev and we worked well together on Doctor Thorne. Stefanie is a lovely girl. She seemed very down to earth and confident in the best kind of way, enjoying the experience. She was also excellent in the part and wonderful to work.”
Rebecca Front is Lady Arabella Gresham
Q: What was it like working with Tom Hollander? “Tom has that slightly mischievous way with him, there is a twinkle in his eye. But at the same time he does come across as the good moral ethical nice man. Fundamentally, a nice bloke. And he’s perfect at that. He plays it so beautifully. Also very understated, which you need in a drama like this. I always try to root my characters in reality but inevitably you have to heighten it a li^le bit. Lady Arabella is a heightened character and you have to have somebody rooting the drama in order to have heightened characters around them
Q: What was it like working alongside Tom Hollander (Doctor Thorne) and Ian McShane (Sir Roger Scatcherd )?
“Tom was very helpful throughout the filming process, because I’m very new to this, and he’s shown me how to save things for close-‐ups. He’s brilliant to bounce off and very easy to act with. Ian McShane was wonderful, he has a real presence. Even at the read through he was incredible and full of energy. I’ve had a brilliant time.”
1855. When Doctor Thorne’s penniless niece, Mary, is excluded from the wedding preparations of her childhood playmate, she probes her uncle for the truth of her birth. She is devastated to learn that she is the illegitimate child of his late brother. It seems she has neither breeding nor fortune. This is a problem, as Mary and the heir to the Greshamsbury Estate, Frank, have fallen in love. Frank is under strict instructions from his over-‐bearing mother, Lady Arabella , to save his family from financial ruin by marrying money. Frank’s mother schemes to separate the two lovebirds, encouraging her son to woo the wealthy American heiress, Miss Dunstable.
Meanwhile, Doctor Thorne acts as both physician and business advisor to railway millionaire, Sir Roger Scatcherd , in whose hands the fate of Greshamsbury lies, and who is rapidly drinking himself into an early grave.
It’s Election Day, and while Sir Roger Scatcherd wins the respect of the voters, he succumbs to ill health at the hustings.
Doctor Thorne does his best to ease the pain of the cantankerous old man, but he senses the end is near. Scatcherd’s son, Louis, is called for and he takes an immediate shine to Mary. Doctor Thorne is horrified to learn that Louis has romantic designs on his niece. Meanwhile, Miss Dunstable urges Frank to follow his heart and stay true to Mary, despite mounting pressure from his family.
While Frank and Mary plan their upcoming nuptials, Lady Arabella determines not to give up without a fight. She manages to persuade Mary that marrying Frank would be a selfish act, and that if she truly loves him she should set him free.
Meanwhile, Louis is drinking as much as his father ever did, while struggling with his unpopular position in society and Mary’s rejection. A troubled and destructive young man, he takes great pleasure in insulting the Greshams when they invite him for dinner.