Aidan Turner's run on Poldark has made him one of the faces of PBS' Masterpiece. (And also the bare chest of it too.) His next project, Leonardo, is another period set historical drama, rolling the clock back to 1506 Italy. Turner stars as the famous artist and renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci, perhaps one of the most famous men of his time. The series, produced by the Italian production company Lux Vide in collaboration with Rai Fiction and Sony Pictures Entertainment, seemed a good bet to hit American shores, if not on PBS then on HBO or Amazon. But in the end, the series is going to The CW, which - wait, hang on, what?
Leonardo is coming to American broadcast TV, but not to PBS. Instead, it will air on one of the "Big Five" channels. The CW is a joint venture half-owned by ViacomCBS and half-owned by WarnerMedia (a legacy of it being the merger between Viacom's UPN and the WB network). It is known mainly for aiming at teens with its programming, even since its original launch on the back of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But though most people think of the Arrowverse or Riverdale when the channel is mentioned, this is not the first time it's tried to work in period costume dramas. Reign, for instance, ran on the network for several years.
And though it may surprise the Poldark fans, Leonardo seems to be aiming at a younger generation. Though technically set towards the end of his life (Da Vinci died in 1519), much of the first series is the artist looking back over his life as he sits accused of murder. In short, this is as much a "Young Leonardo" show as it is a period piece murder mystery.
The series synopsis is as follows:
In 1506, Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous artist of his time, is accused of the murder of Caterina da Cremona. Questioned by Stefano Giraldi, an ambitious officer of the Duchy of Milan, Leonardo begins to tell his life, starting from the first meeting with Caterina in Andrea del Verrocchio's workshop. Giraldi, fascinated by the artist's personality, begins to suspect that Leonardo may be innocent and investigates to discover the truth.
Though quite a few of the cast are Italian actors American fans might not be so familiar with, like Aidan Turner, the series has several U.K. actors sprinkled throughout the mix. James D'Arcy (Agent Carter) plays Ludovico Sforza, known as Il Moro, the Duke of Milan. Fellow Poldark actor Max Bennett is also in the series, as are Andrew Knott (Gavin & Stacey), Matilda De Angelis (The Undoing), and Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland). French actor Robin Renucci plays Da Vinci's father, and Italian actors Alessandro Sperduti, Gabriel Lo Giudice, Massimo De Santis, and Giancarlo Giannini co-star.
Leonardo Season 1 has already aired overseas and in Canada and has received a Season 2 pick-up. The CW has not yet set a debut date for the eight-part series, but it is expected to arrive in the first half of 2022.