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David Tennant, Ibrahim Koma & Leonie Benesch star in a TV version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days for PBS’s Masterpiece Theater. Watch the trailer.

David Tennant (the tenth Doctor in Dr. Who, Crowley in Good Omens, the voice of Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, Kilgrave in Jessica Jones) stars as Phileas Fogg, the eccentric English gentleman who bets £20,000 that he can travel around the world in eighty days.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of Jules Verne’s most popular novels. The 1872 novel has been in print for nearly a century and a half. It has been adapted by Hollywood before. It was made into an Oscar-winning movie in 1956, a BBC radio adventure, a Saturday morning cartoon in 1972, a TV mini-series in 1989, and a Razzie-nominated movie in 2004. Now it’s being remade again, this time for Masterpiece Theater. An eight episode mini-series, Around the World in 80 Days is currently in post-production and should be released later this year.

Trailer park

Following in the Footsteps, Role by Role

The role of Phileas Fogg is a storied one all by itself. David Tennant is only the latest actor to play the role, following in the footsteps of actors such as David Niven, Steve Coogan, and Pierce Brosnan.

Every Fogg must have his Passepartout; French-born actor Ibrahim Koma plays Fogg’s French valet for this outing, a role previously played by Catinflas, Jackie Chan, and Monty Python’s Eric Idle.

In a twist, the traditional role of Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard, who mistakes Fogg for a bank robbr on the lam, is replaced a reporter named Abigail Fix. She is played by Leonie Benesch (Eva in The White Ribbon, Greta Overbeck in Babylon Berlin). Shivaani Ghai portrays Princess Aouda, whom Fogg and Passepartout rescue from suttee, a practice in India where a widow throws herself on her husband’s funeral pyre (Aouda had been previously played by Shirley McClaine).

If a reward of £20,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to entice someone to travel around the world in 80 days, consider the setting: Victorian England’s £20,000 would be approximately  two million pounds now. That’s certainly enough incentive for an eccentric, slightly mad Englishman to attempt to traverse the globe in less than three months. This mini-series will consist of eight episodes.

It will be on PBS in the US, and is certain to appeal to steampunk fans. Although technically an adventure show rather than science fiction; like many of Jules Verne’s novels, it falls into the category of what his rival and peer H. G. Wells called “scientific romance.”

Are you looking forward to seeing David Tennant on a steam train, in a balloon, and on camelback? We are. He’s a wonderful comedic actor, great with action roles, and handles emotional scenes with artistry. This seriescould be a great vehicle for him.

Steampunk (n): What happens when goths discover the color “brown”.

Yes, we went there.

But Phileas will go Pharther.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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