PBS has gotten in tighter with Eagle Eye Drama since picking up Walter's Choice foreign language series to help fill out its Passport offerings. PBS has picked up both the company's remakes of popular police dramas/mystery series, Professor T and Before We Die. The network also brings the production studio's first stab at completely original programming, Hotel Portofino. Though the series has not yet aired on this side of the pond, fans won't have to worry about it being a one-and-done, as Season 2 is already a go.
Though there are not yet American numbers for the series since it hasn't aired here, the new series has already shown itself a ratings hit in the U.K. and Australia. Eagle Eye Drama's producing partner, Beta Film, reported at its recent Mip TV event that Hotel Portofino was "one of BritBox's top-rated streaming launch originals." It's "the second most-watched VoD series on Foxtel Australia," and it was also apparently the second-highest debut for an international drama on Sky Italia's Sky Serie channel. (Hotel Portofino's story is based in Italy and films there.)
The 1920s era period drama series is centered around Bella Ainsworth (Natascha McElhone), the daughter of an industrialist. She moves to Italy to set up a quintessentially British hotel set against the backdrop of Mussolini's fascism. Critics who have seen episodes already compare it to Downton Abbey-style storylines and cinematic style, though with a darker historical undercurrent, due to being set in Mussolini's Italy. Matt Baker penned the series, and Adam Wimpenny directed all Season 1 episodes. The team will return for Season 2, with Walter Iuzzolino and Jo McGrath executive producing.
Natascha McElhone (Mrs. Dalloway) will once again return as the show's leading lady, with Mark Umbers (Home Fires) as her aristocratic husband and Anna Chancellor (The Hour) as Lady Latchmere, the hotel's most demanding guest. Other stars include Daniele Pecci (Medici) as Count Carlo Albani, Lorenzo Richelmy (Marco Polo) as his son Roberto, and Rocco Fasano (SKAM Italia) as an anti-fascist activist, Gianluca Vitali. Co-stars include Lucy Akehurst (Young Wallander), Imogen King (The Bay), Elizabeth Carling (Agatha Raisin), Oliver Dench (Whitstable Pearl), Pasquale Esposito (Gomorrah), Lily Frazer (Sex Education), and Adam James (Belgravia).
This is the third Walter's Choice series to land a renewal; the U.K. version of Professor T with Ben Miller has also been renewed and has just started filming its second season. The Before We Die remake with Lesley Sharp was announced as coming back for another round of episodes a few days before its stateside premiere.
Hotel Portofino is currently slated to debut on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 8 p.m. ET. The series is planned for a linear debut on ITV this fall, following its success on BritBox U.K.