When Masterpiece announced it was bringing Around The World in Eighty Days to American shores last month, it was the end to a pandemic-riddled saga of getting the David Tennant series made. Originally envisioned as a Christmas series for the BBC and European markets for 2020, filming for the project got underway just before production shut down in March 2020. The announcement was the first time the project had surfaced in months, with the promise that it would air overseas around Christmas 2021, as expected. But for Masterpiece, there was no date revealed.
The good news is that Masterpiece didn't make fans wait long to find out when the show would arrive. Nor will fans have to wait long after it finishes airing across the pond. The series will debut as part of the Winter 2022 block, with the eight-episode run beginning on Sunday, Jan. 2. Tennant stars in this new version of the story as English gentleman-turned-adventurer Phileas Fogg alongside French actor Ibrahim Koma (Mother Is Wrong) as Fogg's valet, Passepartout, and Leonie Benesch (Babylon Berlin) as journalist Abigail "Fix" Fortescue.
This debut of Around The World in Eighty Days will come one week ahead of the highly anticipated All Creatures Great and Small Season 2 premiere, which arrives the following Sunday, on Jan. 9. Since the new All Creatures season is a six-episode run (plus a Christmas episode), the two will then run as a pair for the next six weeks with Around the World at 8 p.m. ET and All Creatures following at 9 p.m. ET, with the finales on Feb. 20. It is probably a good bet that Masterpiece will announce a mystery series to round out the set, which is almost certainly following the usual 10 p.m. ET slot, making a full Sunday evening of programs.
Literature’s most famous race against the calendar is coming to MASTERPIECE with an innovative new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Around The World In Eighty Days, premiering Sunday, January 2 at the special time of 8/7c! Will you be joining us on the adventure? pic.twitter.com/iZEPdo4I6D— MASTERPIECE | PBS (@masterpiecepbs) October 25, 2021
The novel's synopsis was just possible at the time in a world where the transcontinental railroads had arrived. "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."
But, as executive producer Simon Crawford Collins notes, "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."
Around the World in 80 days will co-star Jason Watkins (The Crown) and Peter Sullivan (Poldark), with guest star roles for Anthony Flanagan (Gentleman Jack), Shivaani Ghai (Batwoman), Lindsay Duncan (A Discovery Of Witches), Dolly Wells (Dracula), Richard Wilson (Merlin), Facial Elkihel (The Missing), Gary Beadle (Grantchester) and Giovanni Scifoni (Leonardo). The series, which is being helmed by Life On Mars creator Ashley Pharoah, is currently being billed as a limited series for awards season purposes. But Pharoah has admitted the team is already considering a Season 2 should the show be a hit.
Around The World in Eighty Days will premiere on most PBS stations on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, at 8 p.m. ET. As always, check your local listings.