Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed Cruella, the film about the Disney villain starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Heather reviewed a fun story that she recommends for those of us who “like baking shows or royal love affairs”, Battle Royal by Lucy Parker.
Masterpiece on PBS is currently airing a new version of Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Tennant (the 10th doctor of Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Good Omens) as Phileas Fogg. He is accompanied by relative newcomers Ibrahim Koma as Passepartout, the valet, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail Fix Fortescue, a journalist.
The eight episodes of the show aired in Europe late last year. It’s currently airing in the UK on BBC1 and in the US on PBS. If you live in the US and miss the broadcast, you can watch it on-line (free for a limited time) at the PBS/Masterpiece website.
It turns out that the article was written by Abigail Fix, working for her father’s newspaper. She is outraged that the story was given a fictional byline, a man’s name, instead of her own. Miss Fix is so outraged that she determines that she will follow Fogg to report on the travels.
A French black man, Passepartout, arrives just in time to take the position of Fogg’s valet for this adventure.
The idea of a Victorian woman going on such an adventure with two such men is implausible, ludicrous, even. But it delights me for two reasons.
First, isn’t it great that fiction can invent things that are better than they were in the past? Or, even in the present. If we can’t invent a better past, present, or future for the world in fiction, how will we ever change the world for the better in real life?
Second, when Jules Verne published Around the World in 80 Days in 1873, no one had done it. The first person who circumnavigated the world in fewer than 80 days was Nelly Bly, a journalist and a woman. She did it in seventy-two days, six hours, and 11 minutes while reporting for The New York World. She left in November 1889 and returned in January 1890. So, really this version of Around the World in 80 Days combines two stories — one fiction and one fact. The one that seems more fantastic is the factual one.
For Anglophiles, the first episode is likely to be a favorite. The 1872 London sets, both interior and exterior, are just stunning. It’s hard to believe that South Africa and Romania were the filming locations for Around the World in 80 Days. Movie magic, with a little help from computers, can do wonders.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. Are you watching it?
Here’s the trailer. If you aren’t convinced to watch Around the World in 80 Days, yet, this might do it: