The US appetite for British period drama is being satisfied once again as BBC dramas The Paradise and The Lady Vanishes are to be screened stateside on PBS, as part of a new co-production deal between BBC America Worldwide and Masterpiece.
The Paradise – an adaptation of Emile Zola’s classic novel The Ladies’ Paradise set in a northern England department store in the 1870s – stars Lark Rise to Candleford’s Sarah Lancashire alongside Emun Elliott, Elaine Cassidy and Joanna Vanderham.
The Lady Vanishes is a 90-minute adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 thriller about wealthy young socialite Iris Carr, who becomes convinced that a stranger she meets on a train in the Balkans has been abducted, despite her fellow passengers denying any knowledge such a person existed.
The drama – due to be broadcast by the BBC this Christmas – stars Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs), Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole and Julian Rhind-Tutt.
The acquisition of the two shows signals a growing trend of British period pieces screened for American audiences. The roaring success of ITV’s Downton Abbey, which picked up Golden Globes and Emmy Awards after being shown on Masterpiece, has followed the well-trodden path of series such as Sherlock, which premiered stateside with 3.2 million viewers in October 2010.
PBS chief programming executive John Wilson told RadioTimes.com in an interview last May that Sherlock is “doing very well for us. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s sexy – it’s all the things that make for great television.”
The PBS Masterpiece programme (through which Downton and Sherlock are shown) is known for showcasing British drama, including long running series Upstairs Downstairs, Poirot and Inspector Lewis.