Idris Elba returned as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther to BBC America on Tuesday and drew 206,000 viewers. That’s up from the 168,000 that Luther‘s Season 2 debut pulled in on September 28, 2011, according to Nielsen. The best Tuesday drama debut in the cable network’s 15-year history, the Season 3 U.S. premiere of the show was also just slightly ahead of the 205,000 viewers that Season 2 of Luther pulled in when Live+7 was added. This week’s debut received 90,000 viewers among the adults 25-54 demo. Of course, those numbers are all well below what the Emmy-nominated series garnered in the UK earlier this year; the third cycle of the BBC America co-produced crime drama premiered on July 2 on BBC One to 5 million viewers. While that number is huge compared to the U.S. viewership, it was actually the lowest UK debut in the series’ history.
Luther creator Neil Cross confirmed prequel movie plans for the BBC series starring Idris Elba, saying he’d finish a screenplay and hopes to film next year. The film will follow Luther’s early career when he is still married to Zoe; the film’s final scene is the opening scene of the TV series first season, Cross said at the Edinburgh TV Festival, according to multiple press reports. “Idris is a brilliant leading man, and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time,” Cross said.
Related: WME Signs Idris Elba
Elba is on board to play John Luther, as are Warren Brown, Indira Varma and Steve Mackintosh. Cross said he went with a prequel, rather than a follow-up to the series, so he could bring back popular supporting characters — including some who let’s say maybe don’t fare so well in the final season. Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan character, who doesn’t fit in, chronologically, with the prequel plans, is being mulled as a spinoff series, Cross told Variety last year.
While Idris Elba will soon be cancelling the apocalypse in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, his cop drama Luther has just kicked off its third series on the UK’s BBC One. The first of four hourlong episodes topped Tuesday night in the ratings with 5M viewers for a 21.7% share. But according to overnight data, it was the lowest series debut in the show’s history and 600,000 viewers off from the last Luther episode which aired in 2011. Still, the return of the BBC/BBC America co-production has been well-reviewed by local critics. Stateside, the third season runs on BBC America on consecutive nights from September 3-6. Sienna Guillory features as Luther’s new love interest in this go-around. Returning cast members include Warren Brown, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dermot Crowley and Michael Smiley. Here’s a trailer for the new episodes:
EXCLUSIVE: Idris Elba, the talented star of Luther and The Wire who has been in play for the past couple months, has just signed with WME for all areas. This comes at a great time for Elba, who is finally poised to get his due as a movie star, I think. He reprises his role as the existentially tortured British detective John Luther in the final season of Luther, which premieres September in the U.S. He’s also starring in the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim for Legendary and Warner Bros, which opens July 12. Then, he reprises his role as Heimdall in Thor 2: The Dark World, which Marvel and Disney release in November. He finishes the year playing Nelson Mandela in Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, which is released in the heat of Oscar season by The Weinstein Company. Elba continues to be managed by Nicole Romano and Michael Sugar at Anonymous Content, Headshell Management and he is repped by Roger Charteris at Ken McReddie in the UK. Fred Toczek is his attorney.
After quietly leaving UTA last week, Idris Elba is the hot actor in play, and it’s suspected he’ll either land at WME or CAA. Elba seems poised to finally make that transition from great actor to movie star, so he’s a real catch. But the gang at UTA certainly did their job; the agency booked him into Prometheus, Thor, Pacific Rim and Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, the latter a film the agency packaged around director client Justin Chadwick. By the time he’s done starring in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim this summer and following up by playing Nelson Mandela in the Oscar-bait Weinstein Company release later this year, Elba should finally reach that level of stardom that has inexplicably eluded him. I must say that after watching his turns in The Wire and especially Neil Cross’s British crime series Luther, I find it baffling it has taken this long; how many actors out there are as good as this guy? Elba has also established himself as a serial agency jumper in the U.S. He moved from ICM to CAA, back to ICM, and then chose UTA over WME and CAA two years ago. He remains managed by Anonymous Content and agented by Ken McReddie Associates in the UK.
Resident Evil actress Sienna Guillory will romance Idris Elba‘s troubled English police detective Luther in the drama series’ upcoming third season. The BBC and BBC America co-production is readying a new run of four hourlong episodes that began filming last week. Per the BBC, this season puts John Luther back under intense pressure, with two conflicting crimes to investigate and a ruthless ex-cop determined to bring him down. Guillory will play Mary, a worker in a vintage clothing shop who meets Luther by chance.
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Ruth Wilson signed with CAA. The signing was competitive for the British actress who is playing the female lead in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger, opposite Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Wilson, who showed edge playing the murderess and confidante of Idris Elba’s detective character in the British series Luther, will next be seen in the Joe Wright-directed Anna Karenina. She’ll find out this Sunday if she is to win an Olivier Award for Best Actress for playing Anna in the West End production of the Rob Ashford-directed Anna Christie. Wilson continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment and repped in the UK by Troika Talent.
EXCLUSIVE: British novelist-screenwriter Neil Cross, creator of the BBC series Luther, is coming to American television. In his first formal U.S. TV pact, Cross has signed a two-year overall deal with Universal Television to develop new series projects. “Neil Cross is a visionary and we are huge fans of his stellar work on Luther,” Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We look forward to working with him to create a big broadcast network hit.” Lurher has garnered accolades on both sides of the pond, earning star Idris Elba a Golden Globe award and an Emmy nomination. Its most recent prize came last week, when Luther was named best drama series at the British Royal TV Society Awards. On the feature side, Cross was recently tapped by Ghost House Pictures to write The Day Of The Triffids, based on the classic sci-fi horror novel written by John Wyndam and the 1962 film Invasion Of The Triffids. Cross previously penned two Guillermo del Toro-produced genre films: Mama, staring Jessica Chastain, which is in post-production; and actioner Midnight Delivery, which is being fast-tracked. Del Toro also enlisted Cross for a polish on his upcoming giant-budget monster movie Pacific Rim. Cross, who recently did TV development at 20th Century Fox Television, is repped by UTA, UK-based Independent Talent Group and attorneys Fred Toczek and Bruce Gellman.
Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for The Three Musketeers and a slew of BBC period dramas, is adapting Lindy Woodhead’s nonfiction bestseller Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge for ITV Studios. I’m told that ITV hopes the story of how brash American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge –”The Showman of Shopping” — opened the world’s first purpose-built department store in London in 1909 will repeat the success of Downton Abbey. That NBC Universal production has been a huge hit over here for ITV. Certainly there’s a plum role for the American actor playing Selfridge, who blew his fortune on mistresses and gambling before dying destitute. Selfridge’s girlfriends included famed dancer Isadora Duncan and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. His massive overspending ultimately cost him control of Selfridges.
The second series of Downton Abbey, meanwhile, started shooting on location at Highclere stately home in Berkshire in March. Filming continues until July. PBS Masterpiece will premiere the second series on Jan. 8, 2012, following its ITV run starting this fall.
But that’s not the only bonnet-on-bonnet action coming your way on Masterpiece.
The second series of the BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs, a sequel to the original 1970s ITV show that chronicled the lives of the Edwardian Bellamy family, goes into production in September. The BBC originally announced its Upstairs Downstairs remake at the same time ITV unveiled Downton Abbey. “Upstairs Downstairs is elegantly entertaining but doesn’t reach the same heights as Downton Abbey,” sniffed the Daily Telegraph. Still, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen was pleased enough with the average 8.4 million viewers to commission another 6×60-minute series. There is no U.S. transmission date for Series 2 yet.