Around the World in 80 Days: What We Know Now
A major new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure story premieres Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 8/7c and stars David Tennant! Read on to learn more about cast and characters, plot and number of episodes, filming locations, previous adaptations, and see the tantalizing trailer. Get more news on the show, plus updates on everything coming to MASTERPIECE when you subscribe to to our email newsletter.
In Verne’s 1872 story, wealthy Victorian eccentric Phileas Fogg wagers he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. Fogg is accompanied on the daunting journey by his quick-thinking valet, Passepartout. Along the way, the two are thwarted by a Scotland Yard detective named Fix, who believes Fogg has robbed the Bank of England.
With the 1869 completion of both America’s transcontinental railroad and the Suez Canal, Verne’s tale is just conceivable. “The novel was fascinating because it came at a point when advances in the world meant you could actually get around the world for the first time ever by buying a ticket rather than having to be an explorer,” executive producer Simon Crawford Collins told Drama Quarterly. “Jules Verne had this wonderful idea of a man who was really not designed for traveling to take on this challenge. The narrative of the story comes from the fact Phileas Fogg knows he’s the least appropriate person to do this task and that he hasn’t got a hope in hell, so you’re really willing this man to achieve the thing.”
The MASTERPIECE miniseries tells the story in eight, thrilling episodes. “Our adaptation and Jules Verne’s novel have the same themes at their core: traveling the globe, pioneering adventure and a celebration of technology” Crawford Collins told MASTERPIECE. “Fogg and Passepartout are as central to our show as they are in the novel, but we have embellished their backstories. …And in the spirit of modernization, we have transported the character of Fix from a fairly simple male antagonist into a pioneering female journalist who accompanies them on the trip.”
Key Cast & Characters
David Tennant’s return to MASTERPIECE is a welcome one: He served as a series host in 2009! It’s a mustachioed Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Good Omens) who leads this cast as the affluent and not necessarily intrepid Phileas Fogg. Creator, writer and executive producer Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars) described Fogg to Deadline as “a preposterously upper middle class, over-educated Englishman … [with] a childlike sense of wonder because he’s never traveled, he’s never left London or his club.”
Actors Ibrahim Koma (As Far As I Can Walk) and Leonie Benesch (Howards End, The Crown) play Fogg’s traveling companions—French valet Jean Passepartout and fledgling journalist Abigail “Fix” Fortescue, respectively. Passepartout is a foil to Fogg’s character; he is a man who has lived a gritty, well-traveled life. (“Passe-partout” is French for “pass everywhere”.) Ms. “Fix” is determined to professionally prosper in a man’s world and emerge from the shadow of her newspaper magnate father. Other cast include Jason Watkins (The Crown) as newspaper editor Bernard Fortescue and Peter Sullivan (Poldark) as Fogg’s old antagonist Nyle Bellamy.
A Period Road Trip: Filming Across Countries
The current show is one the creators hope will bring families together to watch. “This is a period road trip,” Crawford Collins explained to Drama Quarterly. “You don’t see so many shows with the promise of a family adventure—how do you keep it smart, family-friendly and fun at the same time? …[We] wanted to make sure the tone was right from beginning to end. The fact that it was Jules Verne didn’t make it easier—because it’s so iconic. [We] wanted it to be true to the spirit of the novel.”
Filming across several countries during a worldwide pandemic was a challenge. After shooting just the first episode in early 2020, cast and crew were forced to take almost a year-long hiatus. In the end, the shoot was spread across studios and onsite locations in South Africa and Romania over a five-month period—four episodes filmed in each country.
Other Adaptations of Jules Verne’s Story
The miniseries airing on MASTERPIECE is the latest in a long line of works adapting the adventure story. A musical with songs by The Kink’s Ray Davies was inspired by Verne’s novel, along with radio dramas, stage plays, documentaries, video games and even a Three Stooges film!
The best-known film version is from 1956 and stars David Niven as Fogg, the Mexican comedian and actor Cantinflas as Passepartout, and Shirley MacLaine as Princess Aouda; it earned five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Ensuing productions that were less successful placed Pierce Brosnan in the lead for a 1989 miniseries, followed by Steve Coogan as Fogg in a 2004 film alongside Jackie Chan.
How to Watch
Around the World in 80 Days airs at the family-friendly time of 8/7c on Sundays, January 2 – February 20, 2022. Or watch each episode online starting the night of its premiere.
Meanwhile, check out the trailer and see why Fogg says, “Let the adventure begin!”