Between the returns of Miss Scarlet and the Duke, All Creatures Great and Small, and Sanditon, 2023 looks like a good year for PBS viewers. But while some shows are being put out to pasture, like Endeavour, and some are getting new cast members, like Unforgotten, a few of the titles fans anticipate are brand new to the lineup. For example, Marie Antoinette, the French-produced drama from Canal Plus, was recently scooped up by PBS Distribution (which is just a fancy way of saying "It's not Masterpiece branded") and will be part of the spring releases. Even better, viewers won't have to wait long, as the show will premiere in March.
The series was first announced in September 2021, hailing from Deborah Davis, the writer of the Oscar-winning film The Favourite, and produced by Banijay Studios France, the same outfit that created the historical drama Versailles (streaming on Netflix over here). The eight-part drama began filming at the time of the announcement, with production spanning over the fall months, shooting in historical locations including the Châteaux of Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Lésigny, Champs, Voisins, and in the studios of Bry-sur-Marne.
The series was quickly snapped up by the BBC and set to air on BBC Two. Still, it took another year before Banijay Studios managed to wrangle a deal for North America. It finally nailed one with PBS during the yearly MIPCOM event, where studios present shows for buyers. With PBS immediately promising a 2023 release, the main question was if Marie Antoinette would come in the early spring alongside Call The Midwife (where Sanditon also premiered in 2022) or if such a hot show would come closer to summer, around the late April/early May debut spot Ridley Road occupied.
Here’s the show’s synopsis:
The eight-part series tells the story of the modern and avant-garde young queen, who was barely 14 years old when she left Austria to marry the Dauphin of France. Growing from a stubborn young princess navigating the rules of the French court under pressure to continue the Bourbon line, to a fashion icon, she fought rumors undermining her reputation.
Emilia Schüle (Berlin Station) takes on the titular role with James Purefoy (A Discovery of Witches) as Louis XV, Louis Cunningham (Bridgerton) as Louis XVI, and Jack Archer (The Bay) as Provence. The cast also includes Jasmine Blackborow (Shadow and Bone), Gaia Weiss (Outlander), Marthe Keller (The Romanoffs), and Crystal Sheperd (Versailles). Directors Pete Travis (Bloodlands) and Geoffrey Enthoven (Children of Love) split helming duties across the eight installments, with writers Louise Ironside (The Split), Avril E. Russell (All on a Summer’s Day), and Chloë Moss (Run Sister Run) also part of the production team.
Marie Antoinette will debut Sunday, March 19, 2022, at 10 p.m. ET and air on a weekly schedule. March 19 is also the same night Call The Midwife Season 12 is set to debut, which is not coincidental. Since both shows are eight episodes, they’ll run side by side, though not back to back, as CTM will be in its usual 8 p.m. ET berth. That leaves the 9 p.m. slot still unoccupied, though whether Sanditon fans should pencil in those Sundays as taken or if it will be a Walter’s Choice series remains to be seen.