With the Downton Abbey body not even warm yet, news comes that writer/creator Sir Julian Fellowes’ next project for ITV, Doctor Thorne is already in the works. Adapted from the Anthony Trollope novel, Doctor Thorne tells the story of the penniless Mary Thorne, the niece of Doctor Thomas Thorne, who grows up with her rich aunt and cousins on the grand Greshamsbury Park estate.
As the story goes, Mary falls in love with Frank Gresham, the only son and heir of the squire of Greshamsbury and nephew of the Earl and Countess de Courcy, and he with her. However, his parents desperately need him to marry wealth, to rescue them from the financial distress resulting from the squire’s expensive and fruitless campaigns for a seat in Parliament. As Mary is penniless and of low birth, such a marriage is frowned upon by his mother Lady Arabella and the de Courcys. Only the doctor knows that Mary is to inherit a large legacy, one that will make her acceptable to the snobbish middle class of which Frank is a card-carrying member.
Sounds a bit like a Downton Abbey spin-off where the names have been changed to protect the innocent to me. With themes of the social pain and exclusion surrounding illegitimacy, the constant battles with financial distress, the difficulties of romantic attachments outside one’s social class and, of course, throw in the effects of the demon alcohol, Downton Abbey‘s got nothing on the drama of Doctor Thorne.
While Fellowes is probably understandably excited to move on from Downton, he is equally as excited to develop Doctor Thorne saying in a statement: “As a lifetime devotee of Trollope, my own favorite among the great 19th-century English novelists and certainly the strongest influence over my work that I am conscious of, it is tremendously exciting and satisfying to know that my adaptation of one of his best-loved novels is coming to ITV. I could not be more delighted.”